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Sounders, fans hoping they can dig out of big hole

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo

The Seattle Sounders FC stunned Sporting Kansas City Wednesday by scoring late in stoppage time to win 1-0 in dramatic fashion. It was a thrill that fans haven't experienced that often this season.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel points to the team's recent roster change as a factor. 

Roster restructuring

The Sounders made changes to their roster in the offseason because they were up against Major League Soccer's salary cap—about $3 million a year total.

As a result, Art says the team said goodbye to some of its more popular players.

"They decided to loan out Fredy Montero. They decided to trade Jeff Parke—he was their best defender—and move some other veterans in order to stay under the salary cap. But the roster was evolving throughout their spring drills and into the start of the season," Art said.

Injuries, suspensions

The Sounders got off to their worst start in team history.

"And then came injuries. And then came suspensions. And just all sorts of roster convulsions that have slowed their progress," Art said. 

The Sounders' current record is 2-3-3. The team is tied with Vancouver at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Designated player problem

The Sounders tried to become more competitive in the offseason by committing to spending more money on Designated Players - generally international stars who are not subject to the MLS salary cap.  After a long wait, they acquired Obafemi Martins, the highest paid Sounders player in team history according to The Seattle Times.

But Martins didn't join the team until after the season started and he immediately had knee problems. He's back now, but hasn't yet had a chance to gel with fellow forward Eddie Johnson, who's also been injured.

Can they bounce back?

Art thinks the Sounders have a chance at the postseason this year.

"I think the roster, in terms of pure talent, is a playoff team. Whether it's a good playoff team depends on how much they rally from this deficit.

"The Wednesday game was big. Kansas City is a good team and the Sounders got lucky. They're going to need a lot more luck from here on out to really be where they thought they could be a year ago," he said. 

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.