Team Profile: Seattle Sounders FC
Year founded: 2007.
First season in MLS: 2009.
Stadium: Lumen Field, Seattle, WA.
Honors: CONCACAF Champions League (2022), MLS Cup (2016, 2019), Supporters' Shield (2014), U.S. Open Cup (2009-11, 2014).
2023 highlights: there is a Rocky Mountain flavor to Seattle's start to the season, with home games against the Colorado Rapids (February 26th) and Real Salt Lake (March 4th). Three of their first four games are at Lumen Field, with last season's double winners LAFC in town on March 18th, after a first road trip, to FC Cincinnati (March 11th). The testing spell for Schmetzer's men will be heading down the stretch. They head to Minnesota United on August 27th, the first of six games which take them through to the end of September, of which just one is at home - and that is against Cascadia Cup rivals Portland Timbers. Aside from Minnesota, they also visit Austin, before three in a row on the road, at Dallas, Colorado, and Nashville. They complete their regular season at St. Louis City SC on October 21st.
Head Coach: Brian Schmetzer.
Players to watch: Jordan Morris, Nicolas Lodeiro, João Paulo, Cristian Roldan, Raul Ruidiaz, Albert Rusnak.
Jacob Castro (homegrown) Héber (trade from NYCFC) Sota Kitahara (homegrown) Fredy Montero (re-signed after being out of contract)
Samuel Adeniran (trade to St. Louis) Will Bruin (option declined) Jimmy Medranda (out of contract) Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (option declined)
2022 summary: for the first time in their MLS history, the star-studded Sounders failed to qualify for the playoffs, though perhaps becoming the first MLS team to win the CONCACAF Champions League may have softened the blow. They ultimately finished 11th in the Western Conference, suffering a franchise high 17 losses, and managing just 12 wins, equaling the low achieved in their first season (2009), albeit when four fewer games were played. (They won 11 games in the Covid-affected 2020 season). João Paulo's ACL injury in the second leg of the Champions League final, on reflection, was a cause for their MLS struggles. His presence as a defensive midfielder was sorely missed, as was Raúl Ruidíaz, who made just 18 appearances in a stop-start season interrupted with injuries.
Facts and Stats: the Sounders picked up 63 yellow cards in 2022, the most in franchise history, edging past the 62 they collected in 2011. They also had four red cards, having been free of dismissals the previous two seasons. Two of the dismissals were for Kelyn Rowe who had never picked up a red card in any of his previous 10 seasons! When Alex Roldan was sent off at Houston Dynamo on May 18th, 2022, he became the first Sounders player dismissed since Xavier Arreaga at San Jose Earthquakes on September 29th, 2019.
Milestones in 2023: with all the firepower they possess, expect the Sounders to race to 700 regular season goals. They start the season on 679.
If Sounders legend Fredy Montero makes as many appearances (26) as he did in 2022, then he will reach 200 for the club.
Jordan Morris has 42 regular season goals for the Sounders, which means he needs to go one better than last season to reach the half century mark. (He has six goals in the playoffs, which puts him at 48 for the club in MLS).
Veteran goalkeeper Stefan Frei managed five shutouts in 27 appearances last season, putting him just nine away from joining Nick Rimando (154) and Kevin Hartman (112) in the 100 Club. He is also four appearances away from 350 in MLS.