2014 record: 20-10-4, first in MLS. Returning 10 starters
* Starters in bold
The skinny: There were questions about No. 1 goalkeeper Stefan Frei at this time last season. And some of them lingered two-thirds of the way through the season. But Frei seemed to grow into the job and clearly made it his own by the end of the season.
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Backups: Troy Perkins was brought in to provide experienced depth, filling the spot vacated by Marcus Hahnemann, who retired. Meanwhile, draft pick Charlie Lyon inherited the No. 3 role previously handled by Josh Ford, who was lost in the expansion draft. Lyon is expected to get most of his minutes with the Sounders 2 USL team.
The skinny: No playoff team gave up more goals than the Sounders last season, and dramatic offseason changes were expected along the back line. As it turned out, there could be 50 percent turnover there, but not much accompanying drama. English veteran Tyrone Mears has moved cleanly into DeAndre Yedlin’s right back spot, while versatile Brad Evans has increased his versatility by taking over the center back spot alongside Chad Marshall. Leo Gonzalez, 34, is expected to at least begin the season retaining his familiar starting role at left back.
Backups: Coach Sigi Schmid said he hoped that either Damion Lowe or Jimmy Ockford would use the preseason to show himself as a dependable young center back, but apparently neither has yet reached that stage — and either or both could continue their development on Sounders 2. However, Andres Correa showed enough on the outside to justify hopes that he could assume the left back duties from Gonzalez sooner or later. Dylan Remick’s part of that competition was slowed by a training camp concussion.
|4||Tyrone Mears||5-11||163||32||Bolton Wanderers|
|21||Jimmy Ockford||6-1||185||22||New YorkCosmos|
|51||Oniel Fisher||5-9||155||23||New York Red Bulls U-23|
The skinny: The basic unit is familiar, with any changes coming from need and versatility. The first-choice unit seems to be Marco Pappa, Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda and Lamar Neagle. Micheal Azira has moved into the first 11 while Alonso recovers from a groin injury. Neagle also is capable of moving up to forward when necessary. For the start of the season, at least, Evans doesn’t figure into this unit.
Backups: Top draft pick Cristian Roldan helped his standing as preseason rolled along and he increasingly gained Schmid’s confidence. The same seems true of second-year homegrown Aaron Kovar. Andy Rose seems to remain a trusted reserve.
|7||Cristian Roldan||5-8||165||19||U. of Washington|
The skinny: Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey combined for 32 goals last season. Their connection with each other has seemed to pick up where it did last season. They are 30 and 31 years old respectively, so while some decline may not be far off, there hasn’t been much indication that either remains anything but premier-level MLS forwards.
Backups: Chad Barrett and Kenny Cooper provide experienced and proven options off the bench. Kevin Parsemain came on strong as his fitness improved during camp. However, with the four proven goal-scorers ahead of them, Parsemain and Darwin Jones could get most of their goals at the S2 level this season, or in U.S. Open Cup.
|17||Darwin Jones||5-10||175||22||U. of Washington|