The massive 2009 roster post

Most people would think that building an expansion team that could contend from day one would be an impossible task. But in the case of the next expansion team to enter MLS, this may not be the case. Here's my first attempt at creating a possible, realistic and strong roster for Seattle Sounders FC in 2009.

Current Sounders players: (F) Sebastien Le Toux is already signed, and (G) Chris Eylander will surely soon follow suit. There are a number of players who could follow them, but at this point I'd take (D) Zach Scott, (D) Taylor Graham, (M) Kenji Treschuk and (M) Josh Gardner.

Expansion draft: Some of the better teams in MLS are going to have good players available due to the deepness of their squads. (M) Khano Smith from New England and (M) Brian Carroll from Columbus should be available. (D, Chicago) Wilman Conde could probably be had, as long as he doesn't try and go to Europe in the offseason. (D, Toronto) Julius James is inexperienced and somewhat shaky, but his ridiculous athleticism means he has upside as well as an ability to finish on set-pieces. Local boy (D) Craig Waibel could be had from Houston. Injury-prone (F) Maykel Galindo, the former Sounder, might be available from Chivas USA. If not, we could just make a deal, trading them a bit of allocation money or something.

International signings: this is where the good stuff happens. First off, the rumors are swirling about this guy.I think there's an above 50% chance that the man pictured, legendary American and Washingtonian (G) Kasey Keller is a Sounder next year. He wants to be here and the team wants him. As is the case so often in MLS, something will be worked out, as it was recently to grant Brian McBride's wishes of playing for his hometown Chicago side. And the Sounders might be first in line to acquire him, anyways. The land of MLS rules and regulations is a murky, treacherous place, but with the guidance of Adrian Hanauer, we should be able to bring Keller safely to Seattle.

Some other players will be picked up internationally as well. I'll stick with my hunch that someone like (M) Zinha will be picked up to do great things for the Sounders attack. If not, there are a bunch of other players that could also fill this role (the previously mentioned Eliseo Quintanilla, Benny Feilhaber, Shinji Ono...) Another forward, like former Sounder Cam Weaver, will probably be added, and if not him it could be Preston Zimmerman. And the defense might need some extra bolstering as well. Hanauer could use his Costa Rican contacts to help add someone like the experienced (D) Carlos Castro.

College draft: The Sounders will get a bunch of young talent here, but probably only their #1 draft pick will make an major impact. And if it's (F) Marcus Tracy from Wake Forest, that could happen right away. He's good.

So after all that, we're left with 18 players for the senior roster (and a few more for the developmental, but I'm not going to go into that). Here's how those positions are filled in my proposed roster, as well as a possible starting 11.

Forwards: Nate Jaqua, Maykel Galindo, Cam Weaver, Marcus Tracy
Midfielders: Zinha, Brian Carroll, Sebastien Le Toux, Khano Smith, Josh Gardner, Kenji Treschuk
Defenders: Carlos Castro, Taylor Graham, Wilman Conde, Craig Waibel, Zach Scott, Julius James
Goalkeepers: Kasey Keller, Chris Eylander

Smith--------Carroll-------------Le Toux

Now... how good would this lineup be? Smith and Le Toux both have fabulous pace, and should fit quite well into the attacking style the Sounders say they want to play. The defense is savvy and experienced, and the combination of Keller and Eylander would be the best 1-2 keeper duo in the league, hands down. There's good depth at forward, and if Tracy produces this year like I believe he can, he'll be a force. The only weakness could be if Zinha (or whatever international CAM we end up with) is injured for a lengthy period of time. I guess I'd trade Colorado for Ciaran O'Brien and stash him in the reserve league/call him up as soon as someone got injured. Other than that, this side looks - to me - like one that could compete in MLS next year. But I'd love to hear what you think.

(And if you're curious, yes, this would fit under the MLS salary cap.)


GoSounders.com said...

Wouldn't they be giving up the #1 pick for Jaqua?

Ness said...

Did you hear that somewhere? I hope that's not the case... Tracy's going to be a stud. I assumed for Jaqua they'd be sending allocation money the other way.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that lineup will fall under the salary cap? Some of the existing MLS players have their salaries published, while you could make up theoretical salaries for the rest. I'm curious to see the numbers.

Ness said...

Here are my numbers. For the current MLS players, I used their salaries for this year, and for the USL players (minus Le Toux) I just made estimates leaning on the high side. I gave Tracy the same amount as this years #1 pick, Chance Meyers, makes.

Jaqua (160), Galindo (80), Tracy (100), Weaver (150)
Zinha (400), Smith (60), Carroll (125), Le Toux (100), Treschuk (50), Gardner (65)
Castro (150), Graham (60), Conde (163), Waibel (70), Scott (33), James (45)
Keller (250), Eylander (80)

Total: 2,141,000

The salary cap for this year is 2.3 million, and will probably rise to 2.5 mil. next year. In addition, the Sounders will have allocations to pay down some of the cost without it counting against the salary cap. So I'd say this will be comfortably under the cap, with room for mid-season pickups.

Ness said...

I just remembered that Tracy's a Generation Adidas player, so whatever he makes would not count against the cap. So that'd be another 100k to play with.