Updated Jan 12, 2012 - 12:39 am
Seattle Sounders FC 2011 Season Review
Below are my thoughts on what worked, what didn't in 2011 and what to expect next year.
Mauro Rosales' arrival saved what could have been a disastrous season after Steve Zakuani's injury. The Argentinean then went on to set the club record for assists (13). If Rosales had not been injured before the playoffs, Seattle might have moved on to the next round.
Fredy Montero (photo courtesy of Jane Gershovich)
The enigmatic Fredy Montero proved he's one of the best forwards in the league. He tallied 18 goals and 12 assists in all competitions. Montero appears to be happy in Seattle, but is he contemplating moving on to higher levels of competitions in Europe?
Kasey Keller showed once again that he is one of the top 'keepers in MLS. He led MLS with 19 victories and was third in shutouts with 10. For his going-away party, over 64,000 fans celebrated with Keller recognizing his contribution to the city and soccer in general.
Head coach Sigi Schmid was clearly disappointed with the unexpected end to the MLS season. However, the Sounders did win their third U.S. Open Cup in a row, and moved on to the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League competition. Schmid remains in the top echelon of MLS managers.
In what probably will be his last year with the Sounders, Nate Jaqua was ineffective throughout the year. He scored two goals and notched six assists in all competitions. Jaqua had offseason surgery in the groin area and never seemed to get untracked.
The Sounders rewarded Pat Noonan with a three-month contract extension in April. He played 706 minutes and managed only two assists and no goals.
Midfielder Steve Zakuani suffered a season-ending fractured tibia and fibula in late April. O'Brian White encountered blood clot issues and never returned to the lineup. Both were expected to make significant contributions.
This year's early exit ensures another set of personnel changes by the Sounders' management team. The biggest hole to fill will be in goal. Keller's leadership on the field and in the locker room will be missed. Look for a major acquisition to be made in this area.
Zakuani and White are question marks until they start playing again. Will they recover and regain their old forms?
Schmid's third straight first round exit places incredible pressure on the seasoned manager. This is one of the league's highest profile franchises, and team owners will be expecting nothing short of a championship in 2012.
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