3 steps to making the Sounders a serious contender in MLS

I've been down on the playoff chances of the Sounders. I've said that the roster needs significant change, and I stand by that. But if said change happens, Seattle could have a postseason contender after all.
(Step zero, of course, is signing defender Jeff Parke and keeping him from trotting off to Europe. If that doesn't happen, no playoffs. Period. This should be priority numero uno for the organization right now.)

What do we have to work with? Well, with Schmid, Hanauer and Henderson, some of the best minds in the American soccer business, for starters. More importantly, there's quite a bit of cash left. Taking the 15 players we have signed, I slightly increased most of their salaries and decreased a few (here's looking at you, Vagenas). I doubled Parke's contract and assumed he signs here, and gave Keller 300k. All told, I estimate we've used about 1.6 million of a 2.3 mil cap. And with a bunch of allocation money remaining, probably in the neighborhood of 400k, the Sounders are in a good position to spend.

The latest sexy hot draft rumor has us taking Akron's Steve Zakuakuani, a striker. He's a guy in the Patrick Nyarko mold, and as such wouldn't be more than a backup next season. He also wouldn't count against the cap. We should add one more former USL Sounder to the team - and bench - leaving 3 roster spots left to make significant upgrades.

1. Central defense. Parke is good, Wahl is ok. But we want better than ok, right?

Solution - sign Roy Miller. This one appears to be nearly done. Miller is a big 24 year old Costa Rican who has a comparable game to Cory Gibbs. A defensive pairing of Parke and Miller would be amazing. Probably the best in the Western Conference.

Cost - since he's likely coming on a loan, I'd guess a relatively reasonable 200k.

2. Striker. Nate Jaqua is a very good target guy, but he can't create and do it all on his own. We don't have the personel to play a Columbus-style 4-5-1 very well, so another man up top is necessary.

Solution - sign Freddy Montero. Haven't we been over this already? The young Columbian has long been rumored to have had his rights purchased by the Sounders.

Cost - whatever it is, there would be allocations used. I'll go with about 200k, with maybe 125k in allocation money as well.

3. Outside back. Unless we're planning on playing someone out of his best position, we only have one at the moment - James Riley. And do you really want to count on Nate Sturgis's body not completely imploding? There's no easy answer for this one, but I've got a creative one...

Solution - sign Tarek Elrich! Who? He's a 21 year old Aussie currently playing for his home country's Newcastle Jets. A member of his U-23 team, he's the best player on a team going nowhere. He's got speed in bunches, vision, and loves to get forward and spur the attack. Exactly the type of outside back Sigi loves. When the Australian season ends in February, he will probably be looking for better opportunities.

Cost - not much. The A-League is even cheaper than MLS, and Elrich could probably be had for around 125k.

---Jaqua -- Montero --
-------Ljungberg -----
KSmith Evans Le Toux
Riley Miller Parke Elrich

This lineup, combined with the depth the Sounders would have, would be a top-4 club in MLS. No question. The resources are there to make Seattle a contender. The only question is whether the Sounders are willing to give it a try.


Anonymous said...

I've heard rumors that we're shopping Khano Smith around, possibly for a draft pick. Have Adrian, Chris, and Sigi changed their minds about wanting him on the team?

Ness said...

Nah, they'd still like to have Khano. But with the imminent signing of Roy Miller, and potential of Montero, there's a scarcity of international slots. As Khano is a marginal starter, he's the one on the trade block.

I could see him go to, say, Dallas, for one of their first round picks.

Mike @ GoSouders said...

Ness... great insight and research on Elrich.

We always here about Adrian and Co. looking at South America and Africa to find players, I've never heard Down Under as an option too.

I looked around reading p on tarek after reading this, and I think he would be great in Rave Green.

Good job.

Anonymous said...

hopefully we can work something for that guy money talks. Only change i would make assuming we keep khano smith is i would start nyassi over him

Sounder at Heart said...

ness, there are 8 international slots total.

Green Card holders don't count.

I count the club at 5 right now. What do you have?

Anonymous said...

He is assuming montero , miller are signed so that would be 7 and if zakuasi is the number one pick that is 8