The creativity and technical ability of Mauro Rosales makes the loss of Montero significantly more palatable, while the leadership of the club captain will be crucial in a pivotal season in the team’s young history. Steve Zakuani was clearly rusty upon his return from an injury that kept him out of first team action for more than 16 months. By the end of the regular season he was showing consistent flashes of his former self, he was tremendous against the Galaxy in the second leg of the Sounders’ Western Conference final and was arguably the best of his professional career. If Zakuani can consistently show that level of quality throughout the season, it’s easy to see him being in the MVP conversation at the end of the year.
Perhaps the most intriguing of Seattle’s three attacking midfielders is Mario Martinez, who struggled to break into a Sounders team that was playing very well down the stretch but scored the goal that gave the Sounders their first ever playoff win against Real Salt Lake and has looked nearly unplayable during pre-season. Between those three and the very capable Neagle and Alex Caskey on the bench, the battle for playing time at the outside midfield positions should be very interesting to watch.