The Seattle Sounders play their final preseason match Saturday afternoon in San Jose, California. The team begins its regular season next Saturday, March 2, at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Field against a new expansion team, FC Cincinnati. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about how the Sounders look this year.
THE RETURN OF JORDAN MORRIS
Thiel said the Sounders will be able to build on the success of 2018.
"Last year, the Sounders finished in their last 19 games with 15 wins, two losses and two ties," he said. "That was the best half season in Major League Soccer (MLS) history.
"Most of their players are returning from that team so they don't want to mess around too much with the success they had a year ago.
"That success was tempered by the fact they lost to the Portland Timbers in the MLS playoff in the Western Conference Semifinals.
"So, they do have some improvement. And I think a lot of that is going to be in the hands of Jordan Morris, the young superstar for the Sounders who missed all of last season (with a broken leg). Now he's back.
"He's from Mercer Island, went to Stanford, was one of the premier young players in American soccer."
WHO ELSE IS BACK
"The one guy they're missing is Ozzie Alonso. He's been there from the beginning and they let him go. But some of the key people from last year's big run still up front are Nicolás Lodeiro, Víctor Rodríguez and Raúl Ruidíaz, the designated player they acquired from Peru who is just phenomenal. Cristian Roldan is also back in the midfield, the former University of Washington standout."
With defender Chad Marshall and goalie Stefan Frei also returning, Thiel said he doesn't think the Sounders will need another big addition during the international transfer window this summer.