Three Questions for the 2017 Seattle Sounders Season

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09 December 2016: Seattle's Clint Dempsey practices by himself at the far end of the field. Seattle Sounders FC held a training session one day before playing in MLS Cup 2016 at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. (Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After coming back from the depths of the Western Conference table to start the 2016 summer, the Seattle Sounders sacked longtime manager, Sigi Schmid, got Nicolas Lodeiro, and then went on to dominate the rest of the season. They squeaked into the playoffs as the fourth team, won in the first round (not without controversy), and just kept on winning, all the way to the MLS Cup Final.

Three Questions for the 2017 Seattle Sounders Season

As Seattle followed bitter rivals, the Portland Timbers, with their own wave of success, the city and club have basked in their glory. Now, all that’s over and it’s a new season. Here are three questions we have for them going into 2017.

How Much Can They Let “The Deuce” Loose?

Clint Dempsey’s heart issues momentarily left the Sounders in a lurch. They were absolutely rolling with him and Jordan Morris up top, and Lodeiro pulling the strings. Then his absence comes, and Nelson Valdez was relied upon to do the job up front. He actually contributed a few goals (granted one was offside and never called). Nothing really though made up for the loss of deuce.

The Sounders won MLS cup and went through the playoffs without Deuce in the lineup. It doesn’t make him expendable. It actually might make him necessary to the success of 2017. The big question here is how much can he do? Will he be able to go a whole year? A whole ninety minutes? We’ll see as it unfolds, but this question must be answered.

Can They Avoid The Post Championship Letdown Year?

The Portland Timbers in 2016 were one of the many teams who went from Champions to no postseason, in recent history. The Los Angeles Galaxy were one of the few who were exempt from this, and Sporting KC in 13/14. It’s ok. It happens in a lot of pro-sports. But can Seattle do well enough in 2017 to make the postseason at least? Honestly, I think they can. Portland had a whole lot of moving parts, including key components in Jorge Villafaña. They were oft-injured and had a lack of depth overall.

Seattle’s biggest loss was Nelson Valdez. In exchange, they get Clint Dempsey back, and added Will Bruin and Harry Shipp. They’ll return nearly everyone from their backline and midfield core, setting them up for maybe a second run at the title. While it seems easy to answer this right now, crazier things have happened. Can they avoid the let-down? Time will tell.

Can Nico Lodeiro Win MVP in 2017?

While some people wanted to talk about firing Sigi Schmid, and the great job Schmetzer did as his fill in, Nico Lodeiro was what changed the Sounders. While I respect what Schmetzer did, I don’t think there would have been an issue with Sigi if he had Lodeiro the whole season. They were missing that number 10, as Dempsey had to play there, and Morris and Valdez somewhat struggled to lead the line. The addition of Lodeiro changed the entire complexion of the Sounders.

Lodeiro played merely 13 games in the regular season with Seattle, and tallied 13 goals and 8 assists. That’s absolutely insane. A continued pace of that over the entire year would result in the greatest season an attacker has ever put together in MLS history. Now, a goal a game may not be as realistic in 2017. That assist rate though, just might be. We’ve seen the MVP been given to David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco the last two years. The only other player at that calibre in MLS right now? One Nico Lodeiro. If he can be as big of an influence on Seattle, and stay healthy, there is doubt in my mind he could win the MVP award in 2017. Still, time will have to tell.

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