Sounders' midfield full, but who will go forward?

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJanuary 29, 2013 

Events of the past few days have left Sounders FC deeper at one of its deepest positions and thinner at one of its thinnest.

The latter came with word Monday that central defender Patrick Ianni suffered a foot injury during jumping tests over the weekend. There was no immediate indication of when Ianni might return, pending the results of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam.

Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado were projected as Seattle’s starting central defenders after the offseason trade that sent Jeff Parke to Philadelphia.

Even with two players from last season’s three-man rotation missing, coach Sigi Schmid said there are options on the current roster.

“We drafted (Eriq) Zavaleta primarily as a center back – this definitely keeps him back there,” Schmid said. “Zach Scott can play inside as well … we’re really looking at him playing more inside this year than outside, because we figured we have (veteran Adam Johansson and rookie DeAndre Yedlin) on the right. So it just means Zach will move up into the lineup. So, I don’t think it pressures us into a move yet.”

The Sounders made a move at a different position Sunday, bringing midfielder Lamar Neagle of Federal Way back from Montreal for his third stint in Seattle. However, that trade seemingly adds to a position of strength, since the Seattle midfield already includes veterans Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales, Steve Zakuani, Christian Tiffert, Mario Martinez, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose and others.

“It gives us a little more depth on the wing – maybe (more) than we even need,” Schmid said. “But Lamar can also play up front. So, he’s shown that capability, and we’re going to be missing Martinez at certain times this season as well. So, his versatility and his abilities and his desire to come back home are all things that came together to make it work.”

Forward also projects as a position of need for the Sounders, who are still looking to fill the vacancy created by the loan of franchise goals leader Fredy Montero to Millonarios of Colombia.

One starting forward spot will be handled by Eddie Johnson, the club’s 2012 goals leader who is training with the U.S. national team. But the other starting spot remains unsettled. The club could bring in another forward – perhaps even using a designated player spot. It also could choose from veteran forwards such as David Estrada, Sammy Ochoa and Babayele Sodade or draft picks such as Lebogang Moloto and Jennings Rex.

The Sounders could also reach into that wealth of midfielders and move someone forward.

“Zakuani can play up front,” Schmid said. “Lamar is another guy now who can play up front. Mauro’s played that position before as well. So we’ve got different options there. Those three are probably the main guys who project forward.”

ADDED TIME

The Sounders will train at Starfire Sports Complex this morning before leaving for Arizona, where they will begin seven days of training Wednesday. … Johnson and Evans are expected to see action when the U.S. national team meets Canada at 6 p.m. today in a friendly at Houston. The game will be shown on ESPN2. … The Sounders made their the first cuts of preseason camp over the weekend. Gone are Marvin Angulo, Manuel Asprilla, Jose Cuevas, Justin Davis, Cody Ellison, Ross LaBauex, David Opoku, Jonas Rasmussen and Isaiah Schafer. … The 2013 Sounders Women schedule was released Monday. The team’s first appearance will be an April 14 home friendly against Oregon State University. W-League play will begin May 27 at home against Los Angeles. Home games will be played at Starfire Sports Stadium. The full schedule is available at www.SoundersWomen.com.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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