LAGC: During the dark days of the Galaxy's early season, the one positive was the emergence of several young players. Now that the Sounders are experiencing their own dark days, who if anyone, has emerged as a silver lining?
SaH: The brightest star from the Dire Days is probably Andy Rose. He's shown strong positioning, good heading skills, good defending, an ability to play the little interchanges. If his finishing was better or his need for a second touch when he thinks eliminated Rose would be a solid starter anywhere. Instead he's like a junior Brad Evans who can play anywhere on the field, and more than passably. It will be interesting to see him as a 2nd/3rd sub when Seattle's full roster is around.
LAGC: Word is you guys have some new signings and that Oba might be back soon, which, at this point, is really like a new signing in itself. Tell me about these new guys and how it all fits together going into the final stretch.
SaH: Andreas Ivanschitz is going to fill the Pappa role as a winger/central creator. He's got better dead ball service, which is excellent, because Seattle's dead-ball service has been quite poor. Most of the time that will be on the left, as he's naturally that sided, but he'll dive to the middle at times. Nelson Valdez will probably be a mix of target winger and 3rd forward. Sounders have had some success with target wingers in the past (Jaqua, Cooper). Plus they'll be able to rotate Neagle into lineups and use him as a sub. The overlooked new guy is now Erik Friberg. The former Sounder ('11) is a box-to-box CM/RM who is much better defensively than Pineda, a decent long passer and someone who knows the team a bit (seven guys in org from his last run). On top of those three there's still a chance that Panamanian CB Ramon Torres is coming. If he does that means Sounders have three CBs that are better than most MLS teams' top two.
It was a good window.
LAGC: Things seemed to really go down hill for you guys after the Oba injury and Clint's suspension/international absence. Last year the Sounders had guys like Neagle and Pappa and Barrett contributing goals, however, without the Hydra's two main heads, the others seem to go silent. Do you think these guys are just having bad stretches or do you think that they are partially good because they lineup with guys like Dempsey and Oba, thus have been less productive in their absence?
SaH: Seven weeks ago I would have answered this differently. This year it's clear that Chad Barrett is at the end of his useful time as an MLS player and that Lamar Neagle needs one man of greatness on the field in order to be at his best. So they are having bad stretches and it's complicated by the absence of quality players. Also, Barrett's old and might just be toast.
Projected lineup: Frei; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Thomas, Friberg, Roldan, Rose; Dempsey, Neagle
That's subject to change based on health/visas.