Sounders FC is three players short of the Major League Soccer roster maximum of 30, and it has five picks in today’s SuperDraft.
That math could add up to the club trying to package some picks to move up in the draft, which begins at 9 a.m.
“We think we have a strong roster and a strong core of players,” team technical director Chris Henderson said. “There are a few spots we would like to add, and hopefully the draft works our way that we can add some depth and add to our roster. But we are definitely going to be talking to teams as well.”
Another approach would be to keep the picks and cast a wide net in a draft that coach Sigi Schmid says is relatively light on top-tier stars but fairly deep on next-level contributors.
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“There’s some quality guys at the top of this draft that you sort of want to say are no-brainers and can make it for sure,” Schmid said. “But I think then there’s a pool of another 20-30 guys that you are not quite sure” about.
As of Wednesday, the Sounders had the No. 11, 21, 27, 29 and 47 picks in the three-round draft. The 21st pick came from D.C. United for Stephen King, and the 27th came from Chicago for Freddie Ljungberg.
In their two-season draft history, the Sounders have hit on players from the top, middle and bottom. Of the eight players Seattle selected over the past two SuperDrafts, four remain on the roster: first-rounders Steve Zakuani and David Estrada, second-rounder Michael Seamon and fourth-rounder Mike Fucito.
The top picks in this draft belong to expansion teams Vancouver and Portland, followed by United, which finished last in the 2010 MLS standings.
Among the top players available are forward Darlington Nagbe and defenders Perry Kitchen and Kofi Sarkodie, all from Akron; Joao Plata, a forward from Ecuador; Will Bruin, a forward from Indiana; and forward Omar Salgado, a U.S. U-17 prospect.
The top goalkeeper is generally listed as Zac MacMath of Maryland.
Seattle has drawn speculation as a possible destination for MacMath, on the assumption that the rookie could learn the ropes during what is expected to be Kasey Keller’s final MLS season.
“We’ve got one of the best goalkeepers in the league still in Keller, and Terry Boss is a very good backup,” Henderson said. “But every team is going to have to carry three goalies, and goalkeeper is a position that we are looking at. I think there are some decent goalies in this draft, so it’s something that’s part of the discussion for our group.”
MacMath could well be available when the Sounders’ first pick rolls around. So could players such as Jalil Anibaba, a defender from North Carolina; Anthony Ampaipitakwong and Michael Nanchoff, midfielders from Akron; and Justin Meram, a forward from Michigan.
In any case, Schmid seemed cautious about opening the 2012 season with a keeper one year removed from college.
“Goalkeepers sometimes develop later than other field players,” he said. “... A player is going to play when he is ready. The goalkeepers are unique in that as they get older, they are sort of like good wine: They age well.”
Schmid also said defenders often contribute quicker than attacking players. However, he added that quality tops any positional timetable.
Meanwhile, Henderson said the club would like to add depth at the wide spots weakened by the expansion draft, along with adding competition at right back and in the midfield.
However, the apparent lack of desperate need gives the club the luxuries of flexibility and patience.
“I think if you look at the new players and you look at the core, it’s a pretty strong team,” he said. “We have to see what falls to us at our picks and look at our roster and see what’s going to help us.”
The Sounders report to training Jan. 25 at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
WHEN: 9 a.m. today
TV: ESPN2, 9 a.m.-10 a.m.
TOTAL SELECTIONS: 54 picks over three rounds
SOUNDERS’ PICKS: Nos. 11, 21, 27, 29 and 47
ORDER OF TOP 10: 1. Vancouver, 2. Portland, 3. D.C. United, 4. Chivas USA, 5. Philadelphia, 6. New England, 7. Houston, 8. Vancouver, 9. Chicago, 10. Kansas City