The ink to put an exclamation mark on the closure of the 2018 season has barely dried and here you have the Seattle Sounders front office brass of General Manager & President Garth Lagerwey, Vice President of Soccer & Sporting Director Chris Henderson and Head Coach announcing the team roster for the 2019 season.
On December 11th the MLS Expansion Draft will take place with free agency following the completion of the draft. The 2018 MLS Waive draft day will start on December 12th. The MLS Re-Entry Draft has two stages, Stage One will be on December 14th and Stage Two will be on December 20th.
The Sounders exercised their 2019 contract on 10 players who were not already under contract. The Sounders had 12 players who were under contract before the season ended bringing the roster total to 22.
The most notable names missing from the above list are two of the team most popular players who were public servants for the Rave Green uniform when they joined the team. The team declined to offer Lamar Neagle a contract for 2019 and Osvaldo Alonso’s contract expired at the end of the season. Neagle is a charter player who was with the team from 2009-2015 and was subsequentially traded to DC United in 2016 then returned to the Sounders and saw limited playing time in 2017 and 2018.
Alonso was with the Sounders from Day One as well, plying all nine years with the Rave Green after he was acquired from the Charleston Battey ( USL ) in 2009. Osvaldo gave Sounders fans many memorable playoff moments and was the glue that solidified the backline with the midfielder. He tenacious tackling and passing were instrumental to the Sounders success as an organization. Osvaldo could return to the Sounders after testing out the free agent market but it would have to be at a reduced salary and that would add to insult injury.
There is no doubt the loss to Timbers is still fresh on the minds of the Sounders front office. If the team permanently parts ways with Alonso the question is will the Sounders have the tenacity in the middle of the field to stop attacking teams like Portland who is a counter-attacking team you need to knock off the ball once they are in your half of the field. It will mean a lot of heavy lifting for Gustav Svensson and Cristina Roldan. Svensson is a World Cup player who can stay with anyone in the middle of the field and this could be a breakout year for Roldan because he will be playing one position instead of starting in multiple positions. His versatility has been great but it has stagnated his growth to the next level in his development. Roldan is both quick and fast, traits that can make him a disruptor as well as a distributor of the ball to the talented Nicolas Lodeiro and Victor Rodriguez who are able to create with and space for Raul Ruidiaz and if all goes well a healthy Jordan Morris and Will Bruin.
While the Sounders have a Designated Player slot open it is high ly unlikely they would bring in a defensive midfield. If Jordy Delem continues his growth he also could be in the defensive midfield rotation.