Old faces return and new faces debut when the Sounders open their season on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Here’s a preview of the 2020 roster entering Seattle’s season opener.
Raul Ruidiaz led the club in scoring last season with 11 goals in just 22 appearances. He followed that up with four goals and four assists in the postseason to remain the most dangerous striker on the roster. Add Jordan Morris’ creativity with the ball – scoring 10 goals with a career-high seven assists last year – and the Sounders shouldn’t have any offensive concerns.
But the most motivated of the scorers is likely Will Bruin. He tore his ACL during training in June last year and is reportedly ahead of schedule to return. Bruin recorded seven goals and five assists in 2018.
Nico Lodeiro had a team-leading 12 assists last season, continuing his reign as the team’s anchor. He was slowed during the offseason due to right hamstring tendinitis, but once healthy, will have even more options in creating chances with the addition of Joao Paulo. The latter already has a command of the team and made a statement by scoring two goals in CONCACAF Champions League play.
Cristian Roldan, who had six goals and five assists last season, will be rotated throughout the midfield if needed due to injuries but is expected to be a permanent look on the right wing. Joevin Jones is another player who could be shifted around but needs to have a standout season after a lackluster 17 appearances in his 2019 return to the club.
Attention will be on center backs Xavier Arreaga and Yeimar Gomez Andrade. The pair need to develop quick chemistry and show consistency in defending for the Sounders. Andrade was signed in February while Arreaga made 12 starts last season.
Once healed from a calf strain, Gustav Svensson will add veteran leadership and grit to defending in the midfield. Nouhou won the starting position at left back while Kelvin Leerdam will line up on the right. Leerdam scored a MLS career-high five goals last season.
In goal is Stefan Frei, who is coming off a solid 2019 season where he started all 34 matches. He was fourth in MLS with a career-high 116 saves and tied for fourth with 10 shutouts.
International competitions will again deplete the Sounders’ roster this summer. Considering injuries are also inevitable, players listed as substitutes will likely see starters minutes this season. Danny Leyva, the teen phenom, will receive more minutes while Jordy Delem is a versatile asset as a defensive-minded midfielder.
Alex Roldan put in work during the offseason to learn a new role as a right fullback and could push for time there while Handwalla Bwana needs to have a breakout season. MLS veterans Harry Shipp, Shane O’Neill and Miguel Ibarra are valuable stopgaps to keep the Sounders afloat through a long season.
The Sounders are innovators when it comes to support staff and they beefed up that aspect of their team this season. Former S2 assistant coach John Hutchinson is in a new role as first team development coach.
Henry Brauner, a former recruitment head for the academy, is now director of player development. Jorge Garcia Valera is a video analyst and Gary Lewis was promoted to academy director.
The aim is to help every first team player reach their potential and keep funneling young talent through the system.