Sounders Notebook: A New Defensive Signing And Alonso To Miss Season Opener?
USA Today Sports

The Seattle Sounders FC have returned to the Pacific Northwest for the next portion of their pre-season training. The team had spent a week in California at Mt. San Antonio College with two friendlies during that time, a 5-0 win over UCLA and a 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy.

Seattle will be spending a week in Tukwila before making the trek down to Arizona for their spring training camp. That will include another appearance in the Desert Diamond Cup later this month. Here is a look at some of the newsworthy items from around the Sounders.

SOUNDERS SIGN COLOMBIAN YOUTH INTERNATIONAL

The Sounders announced on Tuesday that they have signed 21-year-old defender Andres Correa after a successful trial with the club. He can be added to the roster as soon as his Visa is processed and the club receives his International Transfer Certificate.

Correa has been playing for Deportes Tolima in Colombia after a three-year stint with Independiente Medellin between 2012 and 2014. He had also represented Colombia at the Youth International level including a place on the Under-20 team that won the 2013 South American Championship.

Seattle General Manager Garth Lagerwey had this to say about his newest signing, ““He is a dynamic, exciting young player that we believe can compete for minutes on our backline as we head into a packed season across multiple competitions.”

Correa is a left-back by position so he will be battling with incumbent Leo Gonzalez as well as Dylan Remick. Gonzalez is 34 years old and only made 23 appearances with the club with battling injuries. 27 starts is the most starts in a season that Gonzalez has made since joining the club in 2009 but he does have years where those numbers drop to 15, 12, and 11. Remick made eight starts for Seattle in 2014 but he also dealt with injuries throughout the year.

It will be interesting to see how Correa is used over the rest of the pre-season, this could be the sign that Gonzalez’s time with the Sounders is winding down.

SEATTLE MAY HAVE SOLVED CENTER BACK PROBLEM

There was one big surprise that jumped off the page to this writer when the first lineup was announced ahead of Seattle’s pre-season friendly with UCLA last Wednesday. It was the centerback pairing of Chad Marshall and Brad Evans. Not that it was a bad thing, it was just kind of a surprise.

Though it should not be a surprise one bit as any fan of the Sounders should know. Brad Evans is what a baseball team would refer to as a utility player; he can play just about anywhere on the pitch and be successful doing so. In 2014, Evans made starts in four different positions for Seattle including 13 at Right Mid, 5 at Right Back, 4 at Left Back, and 4 at Center Mid.

The move to center back makes sense as it is a position of need for Seattle especially with the departure of Djimi Traore in the off-season. They do have Zach Scott on the roster but he really isn’t a solid solution in the starting eleven. The future is there as well in Damion Lowe and Jimmy Ockford but they are still probably a year or two away from being ready to start on a consistent basis.

Evans will be aided in the learning process from a pretty good teacher in 2014 MLS Defender of the Year finalist Chad Marshall.

It is a combination of the versatility of Evans as well as the already solid midfield corps that led to this move and will likely mean its success. With wingers like Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle on the roster as well as explosive home-grown signing Darwin Jones, it freed up the ability for Sigi Schmid to experiment with Evans on the back line.

"He's got a great work ethic and covers a lot of the field, so you lose that, but you get his vision and his ability to organize,” Schmid said after training on Monday. That organizational skill coupled with that of Marshall will only help the Sounders defensively in 2015.

ALONSO UNDERGOES SURGERY, COULD MISS UP TO EIGHT WEEKS

The club announced last Saturday that center mid Osvaldo Alonso had undergone surgery on his groin. This announcement left fans of the club wondering how long the procedure would keep Alonso out. Manager Sigi Schmid gave an answer on Monday.

Schmid said to the media that Alonso “could be out six-to-eight weeks” in a worst-case scenario but also added, “he could be back out on the practice field in two weeks. We really don’t know.” He also explained that the surgery was to clear out scar tissue that was pushing against Alonso’s nerves.

It is unclear who will fill Alonso’s spot if he indeed does miss the first portion of the season. We know that it will either be Michael Azira or Andy Rose that is for sure. Schmid has not tipped his hand yet as to who he prefers but Azira did start against the Galaxy while Rose started against UCLA.

Another player who could be in the mix is first-round draft pick Cristian Roldan from the University of Washington. Roldan did log 45 minutes in the second half versus the Galaxy but he was used on the wing as opposed to the center spot.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE:

February 18: Sounders FC vs. FC Tucson, 7:00 pm PT (2015 Desert Diamond Cup)

February 19: Sounders FC vs. Minnesota United FC, TBD, (Desert Friendly)

February 21: Sounders FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:00 pm PT (2015 Desert Diamond Cup)

February 25: Sounders FC vs. New England Revolution, 5:00 pm PT (2015 Desert Diamond Cup)

February 28: Sounders FC vs. TBD, TBD (2015 Desert Diamond Cup)

March 8: Sounders FC vs. New England Revolution, 6:30 pm PT (MLS Regular Season) VAVEL’s Live Coverage Begins at 4:30 pm PT

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