The Seattle Sounders handed their title of MLS Cup champions over to Toronto FC in December and are determined to get it back this year.
Head coach: Brian Schmetzer
2017 regular season: 14-9-11, 53 points; No. 2 West
Postseason: MLS Cup runner-up
Seattle entered 2017 surging with confidence after winning the 2016 MLS Cup despite early losses and a coaching change. Plus, veteran Clint Dempsey returned after missing much of 2016 due to a heart condition. Dempsey’s passion and desire to make up for lost time helped spark a strong regular season. He was Seattle’s Golden Boot winner with 12 regular-season goals, while midfielder Cristian Roldan and defender Chad Marshall contributed heavily to the Sounders’ success. The club had an especially strong midfield and consistently won duels when it counted, except against a highly motivated Toronto FC side playing for the MLS Cup in front of a rowdy home crowd.
Morris’ health: Seattle isn’t expected to chase any marquee names before 2018 training begins, but will get a boost when midfielder Jordan Morris returns to full strength. Morris nursed an injured ankle much of a frustrating 2017 season. He struggled to match the numbers that made him 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year. Morris said the forced time off and limitations on the pitch gave him motivation to play his best when he gets back to full strength.
The Seattle Sounders boasted a balanced and patient attack entering the MLS Cup, but inability to hold possession in the midfield and generate chances cost the team another title. The Sounders closed the 2017 season with a 2-0 loss to champion Toronto. They are determined to return to MLS’ biggest stage.
“I’m positive that we will get an opportunity to have an MLS Cup in Seattle, and that will be our goal for next season,” Schmetzer said shortly after falling to TFC.
Season opener: March 4 vs. Los Angeles FC, 5 p.m.
The Sounders return the spine of a club that made back-to-back trips to the MLS Cup and didn’t have to a lot of work to bolster their roster. Seattle acquired the rights to veteran defender Waylon Francis from Columbus Crew SC in exchange for $50,000 in General Allocation Money. Seattle also re-signed veteran goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.
Trades – Acquired D Waylon Francis from Columbus Crew in exchange for $50,000 in General Allocation Money.
Re-signed – GK Bryan Meredith
Contract option declined – M Calum Mallace
Contract expired – D Brad Evans, D Joevin Jones, F Lamar Neagle
Other – GK Tyler Miller (selected by LAFC in expansion draft)