Seattle Sounders 2024 season - three things to be worried about

Can the Sounders navigate the turbulence of a special anniversary year and soar to new heights?
Seattle Sounders FC v Al Ahly SC : 2nd Round - FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2022
Seattle Sounders FC v Al Ahly SC : 2nd Round - FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2022 / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

The Seattle Sounders FC are preparing for their 50th anniversary season, and the Emerald City is filled with excitement. After reaching the Western Conference Semifinal and finishing second in the conference in 2023, they have high hopes for this year.

This season transcends mere points and trophies. It's a celebration of five decades of Seattle soccer history. Expect emotional tributes, special events, and a renewed connection between the club and its community. This unique atmosphere could provide an extra spark of motivation for the players. Or maybe not. Here are three things the Head Coach Brian Schmetzer will need to manage during this season.

1. The 50th Anniversary

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders FC
Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders FC / Abbie Parr/GettyImages

While this may be a cause for celebration, it may also pose some challenges. The players might face some distractions during the 50th anniversary that they would not encounter otherwise. There will be ten home games that will feature some sort of special event.

In addition, this situation may create extra stress for the players and the coaching staff. The head coach Schmetzer will have to handle this with care and attention.

2. Competition for starter spots

Jordan Morris, Raul Ruidiaz
CONCACAF Champions League - Final - Leg 2: Pumas UNAM v Seattle Sounders FC / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Jordan Morris seems to be the preferred striker for the start of the season. Raul Ruidiaz has been the team's main striker for a long time and he is the second-highest scorer in the club's history. His record, his salary, and his Designated Player status suggest that he deserves more than a bench role. And we can't forget about Danny Musovski who also will be fighting for some minutes on the attacking positions.

Pedro de la Vega poses a dilemma for Coach Schmetzer. The Argentine player played as a number ten or a right winger in his previous club. But those positions are already occupied by Albert Rusnák, who earned the number ten spot last season, and Cristian Roldan, who is the heart of this team. This means Léo Chú's spot could be at risk, even though Chú was one of the most threatening players last season.

Another position where there is more competition than available spots is the midfield. João Paulo extended his contract for this season, and three young players are contending for the spot next to him: Obed Vargas, Danny Leyva and Josh Atencio, who earned this role at the end of last season.

The competition for the starting spots is fierce among these three groups of players, as well as many others who are young and hungry. The challenge for Brian Schmetzer is to keep the squad happy and motivated, and to utilize their talents to achieve victories for the club. This will be crucial for the team's success in the upcoming season.

3. Injuries

Raul RuiDiaz, Nicolas Lodeiro
Seattle Sounders FC v Al Ahly SC : 2nd Round - FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2022 / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Injuries have been a major challenge for this team in recent years. In the 2023 season, Cristian Roldan missed 18 games because of a concussion he sustained early in the season. Raul Ruidiaz was injured on three separate occasions last season and sat out 11 games in the regular season. Kelyn Rowe, who was not a regular starter, also missed 17 games due to injuries.

The 2022 season was marred by injuries for several key players. João Paulo, who was a finalist for the 2021 MLS MVP award, suffered a serious injury in early May that ruled him out for the rest of the year. Raúl Ruidíaz was sidelined for at least 12 games with various muscle issues. Youngster Obed Vargas, who had impressed with his performances replacing João Paulo, sustained a back injury that kept him out of action for the latter half of the season.

During the 2021 season, Nicolás Lodeiro underwent two knee surgeries that sidelined him for over 20 matches. Jordan Morris sustained a season-ending injury in February while playing for Swansea on loan and only rejoined the team for the final games of the season.

Schmetzer has a balanced and talented group of players when they are healthy. Can he prevent injuries by switching players and letting the younger ones play more? Can the substitutes maintain the team's performance?

There are many questions that await answers in this season, and Schmetzer is expected to have a strategy to tackle them. Schmetzer has led his team to four MLS Cup Finals in five seasons, winning two of them. He is a respected figure in the Puget Sound soccer community, having played and coached for the region's top professional franchises since 1980. He is known for his ability to inspire his players and orchestrate remarkable comebacks. What will he do this season to keep his team at the top of the league? Fans are eager to find out.