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Henderson: Keller tough to replace, but Johansson an upgrade; striker position should be OK

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on Dec. 30, 2011 at 12:56 pm with No Comments »
December 30, 2011 1:28 pm

Henderson
In addition to the phone conversation with Adam Johansson today (post below) we also got some time with Sounders technical director Chris Henderson. That began with information on the newest Sounders, but also included a pretty good overview of the club’s off-season: what has been accomplished and what remains on the to-do list.

Highlights:

Background on Johansson) The first time I saw him play live was at the end of ’09. We were looking at other players off of that club. And so we’ve kind of followed him along. And know that his contract and that he was going to become free, we just followed him. To have a guy who was the captain of his team become available, and he’s at a good age coming into the prime of his career, he’s a player that we followed and when we take trips to Sweden that was one of the teams that we would watch, whether it was focusing on that team or whether they were player a team where we were looking at players.

Johansson scouting report) He’s a player who’s tactically very smart. He’s versatile. He’s a leader in the back. He has a good engine. Crosses well. His timing of overlaps, his timing of deep crosses in the box is good. He’s a solid player who tackles well and competes well every time he plays.

Remaining off-season priorities) We’re working on things. As you guys know, this is
the busiest time for myself and Adrian and Kurt. I think it’s a good time
for the coaches to take a break, but it gets very busy as players become
available. We want to make sure that we continue to attack like we did in
the past year with the goals we scored. Obviously, getting O’Brian White
and Zakuani healthy again to add to that, that will almost feel like two
new players if we can get them back this season. But there’s a few things
that we’re trying to tie up before we completely focus on the college
draft. In a few days we all leave for the combine and then the big focus is
making sure we try and get some draft picks who can compete to make our
team.

Montero and Fernandez futures) That’s something that we always have on our
mind. I think there are one or two other guys who have had interest from
our club. So you know those are guys who get the most interest. We always
have to have players that we’re looking at, that if the club decides to
move a player that we have a plan in place to replace them. Because we
always want to make sure that there’s a transition that’s really smooth and
doesn’t affect the style of play that we have and the production of our
attack. So it’s something that we always keep in mind, and that’s a
decision for the club and ownership in which direction that we want to
more. But we want to make sure that the players who are within our club and
in their contract keep performing better every single year and Fredy’s one
that we expect to have a very good year for us, as well as Fernandez.

Possible other signings at right back) We look at Adam as a guy who’s a solid starter, who’s
going to be the main guy. I think now looking at depth at that position is
the next step. But the top players we were looking at at that position, I
think Johansson is that guy right now. Yeah, I think depth at that
position, but we’re now also moving on to other positions.

Whether the club has improved with its two big off-season signings, or merely filling holes) Kasey Keller in goal is one of the best this country
has ever had. So I think we are happy with (Michael) Gspurning, and I
think he’s going to be a solid, experienced, composed player for us in the
nets. So we’re happy with that. But as I said, Kasey Keller was in the
nets, and we all know what Kasey can do. But we’re very excited to have
Michael come and play in the nets for us. I think with our right back,
losing James Riley, a seasoned veteran in our league, it’s tough to lose
James, but I think Adam with his international experience, I think he can
push that position even further with the amount of touches that our outside
backs get. I feel very confident in having Adam come and help start our
attack and defend and shut players down. He’s a good all-round player, so I
think that’s an improvement there. Other positions: we are always looking
to improve. How can we improve our attack? So those are things that we’re
looking at too, and can players move around to different positions so we
can find room for Zakuani on the flank, and can Fernandez be versatile and
play inside? There are always things that our staff is talking about and
thinking abount.

On the expected number of players reporting to camps in Arizona next month and Florida in February) Fewer (than last season) maybe by two or three I would
say. But we’re still going to come in with a pretty good group of players.
There’s player who still are going to be competing for spots. And if we
find there’s a position that we think another player who’s new to the group
could come in and replace one of these players, then we’re going to
consider that. Maybe smaller, but not by very much.

Options at striker) That’s always a position you look at when you’re
scouting, so we always keep a depth chart, a list of players that we
follow. But you look at the competition for spots: Fredy Montero’s up top,
Ochoa, Mike Fucito, Rosales has shown he can play there; hopefully Steve
Zakuani comes back, he can play on the wing or up top. So we do have some
very good options up there, and the production was excellent last year with
the absence of Zakuani and O’Brian White. So we hope O’Brian comes along,
but the striker position is something we always continue to look at, and in
scouting it has a lot to do with the timing of players: players in and out
of contracts, being able to talk to the right players at the right time –
so that’s something that we will continue to do. But we feel we have a very
strong core of strikers to work with and continue on the scoring we did
last year.

Rumors of interest in teen midfielder/forward Cordell Cato) Cordell is a player that we had in here and looked at him in
the summer. He’s a player that we’ve had discussions with. Nothing is
finalized with him, but he is a player that we’re talking with and looking
to see if there’s a possibility to get him into our group.

Health updates on White/Zakuani) I probably am not the right one to answer just
because it’s more of a medical question for the training staff and the
coaching staff. I don’t want to give you an answer that’s just on my own
hope. I know they’ve both been working very hard. We see them in training,
and they follow the programs pretty closely and from what I can see it
looks very encouraging.

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