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Three Questions with Sounder at Heart
Some of our old network friends help us preview this weekend's game.
Today we’re joined by a friend from the old network. Mark Kastner of Sounder at Heart is here to help preview this weekend’s game between FC Dallas and the Seattle Sounders with a classic Three Questions series.
Mark asked three questions of me, and I asked three of him. You can read our answers to their questions when they are posted here.
1. After missing the playoffs last season for the first time in MLS, how has Seattle rebounded in 2023, and did the club make enough summer moves to help with a playoff push?
Well, the Sounders have rebounded...sort of. The bulk of MLS fanbases would probably look at the season Seattle is having and not really think twice. "Oh, Seattle are in 2nd place and are potentially going to qualify for the playoffs with ease? Typical Sounders." I wouldn't really blame anyone for thinking this way about Seattle, but as a Sounders fan, there's more under the surface. The team came out of the gates flying, winning five of their first seven matches, but things have been incredibly dull and flat since then. To make matters worse, management decided to be the only team in MLS to not make an external transfer or trade in the Summer window.
I think the Sounders will probably still make the playoffs, but things are not very inspiring right now.
2. Without Leo Chu this weekend, who is one player that FC Dallas fans need to watch out for from Seattle?
I don't think he'll start, but a name to keep an eye on is Cristian Roldan. He has been out for months with concussion issues. When things for a team aren't going well, it's kind of easy to just say something like, "If we didn't have injuries, we'd be fine." That's often an oversimplification, but I don't think it is in this case. The Sounders would be a completely different team (for the better) this season if Cristian had been healthy for the bulk of it. I'd even go as far as to say he's the most important player for the way the Sounders want to play.
Like I said, it's possible he has minimal time against Dallas, but he should be important for the rest of the season.
3. We'll stick with an academy theme here, too, for the final question. How has Seattle's academy been doing lately in producing first-team players? I see a number of HGPs on the roster, but how many are actually making an impact in 2023?
The Sounders are tied for most HGPs played this season with nine and are sixth overall in the league for HGP minutes played. This list excludes two notable former Sounders Academy players, Jordan Morris and Jackson Ragen. Morris, one of the most successful HGPs in league history, is now on a TAM contract. Ragen, on the other hand, is sort of interesting. He spent one year in the Sounders Academy before going off to Michigan for college while also playing for the Tacoma Defiance in 2021. He didn't meet the requirements to be eligible for a HGP contract, so he entered the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. After being selected by the Chicago Fire, the Sounders traded a 3rd round pick for him.
Other notable Sounders HGP currently are Obed Vargas and Reed Baker-Whiting. Both are still teenagers and are attracting attention from overseas.
Thanks again to Mark for joining us for this week’s game preview. We highly recommend checking out Sounder at Heart for all things Sounders. Like us, they’re independent now from SB Nation and Vox, so be sure to follow them there!