Naturally one of the first questions directed at Sounders coach Sigi Schmid today regarded coming to camp absent Fredy Montero, who’s year-long loan to Millonairos FC of Colombia was made official earlier in the day.
“Obviously Fredy has been a very important player to this team, so we’ve got to see what we can do in terms of replacing him,” Schmid said. “We’re still looking at player options. I think we have some options within our squad: Mauro Rosales has played in that position a couple of times, Steve Zakuani being healthy can be pushed in there, David Estrada obviously had a great start to the last season, Sammy Ochoa has played up front. So there are some options that are here within our team.”
On whether he would be comfortable opening season with current roster: I feel confident that we can open the season with the people that we have here. We wantto make sure that the guy we bring in is the right guy. We don’t want to feel ourselves with our backs against the wall, make a decision just to make a decision and bring in the wrong guy, necessarily. So from that standpoint, we have enough confidence in what we have, but we’re also looking as well.
Eriq Zavaleta, the club’s top pick in the recent SuperDraft, spent the first day of training as a central defender. And although he was a goal-scorer in college, that seems to be where Schmid believes he’ll stay.
“We said coming out here we’ll sort of see how the groups work out, and I said to Ezra, ‘Use him in the back or the front, whatever you think is appropriate,’” Schmid said. “So today was in the back. I think you could see the one quality that he definitely helps us with in the back is his passing out of the back is very good. He’s very calm on the ball, finds people and connects people; and the 1-v-1 defending is something you have to see in training. But he’s a versatile player. He can play up front. But at the end of the day – I said it after the draft – I think his long-term bigger upside is maybe as a central defender.”