The Sounders won the MLS Cup, but that definitely doesn’t mean they don’t have problems they need to address. This is MLS and every season is a new challenge after all. But what do they need to do?
Ted S. Warren
Get another striker or two
It’s still a bit unclear if Clint Dempsey will be back next year. Everyone is hopeful, with Bruce Arena saying he expects Dempsey at the USMNT’s January camp. But here’s the thing: Dempsey will be 34 next year. On top of that, it seems very unlikely Nelson Valdez will be back after the horrendous two-year stint he had. The Sounders have let Jordan Morris carry the load, and now they need to give him some strikers to work with.
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY SportsTroy Wayrynen
Sign some true wingers
Ever since they let Lamar Neagle and Marco Pappa go, the Sounders haven’t had any true wingers. Jordan Morris, Erik Friberg and Andreas Ivanschitz have mostly filled those roles, and all of them are typically central players. They made do there, but the Sounders would benefit from having wingers who can give them different attacking options.
Joe NicholsonJoe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Sign a right back
Although Tyrone Mears started to turn things around going into the postseason, he often wasn’t good enough this year. On top of it, the Sounders lack quality depth in the role, too. After DeAndre Yedlin’s departure in 2014, the Sounders still need a new right back — and preferably someone closer to Yedlin’s age rather than Mears, who will be 34 next season.
Steven BisigSteven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Give the players some serious rest
The Sounders' season started on February 23 with the CONCACAF Champions League and went all the way through to MLS Cup. With the final being played on December 10, that is the latest the MLS season has ever run. Recovering from the gauntlet of the 34-game regular season and the playoffs is going to take a little time, and the Sounders are going to need to respect that.
Geoff BurkeGeoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Trim the budget where they can
While no team would trade winning an MLS Cup for anything, it can come with negative consequences. For the Sounders, that means any bonuses players had in their contracts for winning the MLS Cup will count against the team’s cap for 2017. We don’t know much about the Sounders’ budget cap situation or what is in each player's contract, but we do know it will be tighter than it was if they hadn’t won the MLS Cup. The Portland Timbers ended up losing some of the key players in their MLS Cup-winning team from last year, and part of that was due to the tighter salary cap. Now, it's up to the Sounders to mitigate that.