Photo by Christopher Duclos
A view from Sounders FC supporters section.

A Ballardite's guide to following the Sounders

Soccer is back in the Emerald City.

The 2012 season had its bitter moments. From losing to bitter rival Portland to being denied Seattle’s fourth straight U.S. Open Cup by Sporting Kansas City. However, the club has improved a great deal since then, adding experience and a hunger for success. With their season looming, BNT has provided everything you need to know before you support your rave-green in what hopes to be another successful season for the Sounders.

Very recently, the Sounders were able to head down to Tucson and win the Desert Diamond Cup trophy. The Desert Diamond Cup tournament serves as an MLS preseason training opportunity. The club, along with other west coast MLS teams, mixed its starters and reserves to compete against each other. Individually, teams cultivated the tournament to help make their decisions on preseason transactions.

Offseason Transactions

The Sounders did not remain quiet this offseason. Their biggest concern was the club’s financial situations regarding their salary cap. Moves were made in-house as well as internationally to address their monetary constraints.

Their biggest move was the loan-out of the club’s top goal scorer, Fredy Montero, to Millionarios in the Colombian Categoría Primera A. The decision to ship out one of the club’s biggest names came from Montero’s lack of productivity in the post-season. While Montero regularly found the back of the net in the regular season, he often disappeared with no contributions to the club’s offseason. The Sounders wanted to upgrade the striker position with age and experience in order to further the club’s hopes towards the MLS cup.

The club also made trades within the MLS. When the trade window opened, veteran defender Jeff Parke was traded away to Philadelphia. Parke’s departure from Seattle was a mutual decision; it was in Parke’s best interest to play his final years of soccer close to his family on the east coast. In addition, Federal Way native Lamar Neagle was traded back to Seattle after spending the 2012 season for the Montreal Impact. Initially, the Sounders traded Neagle and Mike Fucito to Montreal prior to the 2012 season in exchange for Eddie Johnson.

During the preseason, the club continued to make moves. During training camp an unfamiliar face showed up to train with the Sounders. Chivas USA centerback Shalrie Joseph spent two days in Tukwila training with the Sounders before being signed away from his former club. His signing occupies the 3rd designated player slot that had been vacated by Fredy Montero’s loan out.

During the Desert Diamond Cup, veteran defender Djimi Traore also was signed by the Sounders. Traore, 32, played for 16 seasons in Europe, including seven seasons for the English Premier League’s Liverpool. His signing will add depth and experience to a defense that will be missing Jeff Parke.

The Sounders very recently made a splash in European media by acquiring Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins. Martins confirmed the news on Feb. 28 after General Managers Chris Henderson and Adrian Hanauer flew to Spain to negotiate with Martins’ former club Levante of La Liga. Martins, age 28, is a Nigerian national that has spent years of his career playing for top European leagues; Italian Serie A (Inter Milan), English premier League (Newcastle) and the German Bundesliga (Wolfsburg). Check out his Newcastle United FC highlights here.

Players to keep an eye on

While the new acquisitions of Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Djimi Traore and Shalrie Joseph are exciting, a fan mustn’t forget current club contributors.

Osvaldo Alonso – Survived another offseason from the possibility of being lured away by a European club. The MLS all-star will continue to be a powerful weapon in Seattle’s defense with his hard-nosed playing style.

Mario Martinez – Martinez made a name for himself quickly after joining the club on loan from Real España late last year. As a regular call-up for the Honduras national team, Martinez provided the assist on the goal that upset World Champions Spain in the Gold Cup. His lone goal in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 lifted the Sounders past Real Salt Lake. During the Desert Diamond Cup tournament he has scored phenomenal goals including this effort in the Finals.

Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson - During the offseason these two Sounders have been featured on the USA men’s national team. Brad Evans contributed heavily after being moved to right midfield when Christian Tiffert came to town to play center forward. 2012 MLS comeback player of the year Eddie Johnson will look to capitalize on his prolific 2012 campaign, scoring 13 goals in 22 matches in 2012.

Steve Zakuani – Steve Zakuani made a loud return to action after coming off a broken leg he suffered during the 2011 season. Zakuani, a flying winger is known for his ball skills, quickness and his knack for taking on defenders one on one.

Where to watch

The Market Arms (21+) – Known best as Ballard’s British Pub, the Market Arms is regularly the sight for soccer – both American and British. The Market Arms offers a fine selection of ales, wines and liquor to go with the viewing atmosphere. Their hours are open 11am - 2am Monday through Friday and 10am - 2am Saturday/Sunday. Sorry kids, 21 and over only.

WingMasters Sports Bar (21+) – Located on 5811 24th Ave NW, WingMasters provides their variety of wings and dipping sauces to go along with a sports bar viewing atmosphere.

Ballard Loft (21+) - This venue boasts their 16 flat screen television sets that can play live sound throughout the restaurant. The Ballard loft is located on 5105 Ballard Avenue NW.

The Wing Dome – How about a venue you can take the whole family to? The Wing Dome will be showing matches throughout the season with their hot wings and cold brews. Located on 7818 Greenwood Ave N.

The 2013 Major League Soccer season is upon us. The Seattle Sounders FC will kick-off the beginning of the season at home vs. the Montreal Impact at 7:30pm.

Christopher Duclos is the sports writer for BNT you can follow him on twitter @thechrisduclos

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