TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) — When the collapse began last fall, the Seattle Sounders went from MLS favorites to a crumbling club that obviously needed change.
It's the byproduct of having an unrivaled fan base and expectations that anything less than a league title is unacceptable for management.
"To be honest it was time. Every couple of years a team is going to have to go through changes to grow and you get a certain amount of time with a certain group of players, and if you don't win you change it," Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said. "Most of the time it's your star players you try and change and bring them in with other well-known players around the league and that's just the nature of the game and that's the business part of it. It kind of is what it is and we did lose some big names and some very good players but I think we've brought in some great players to fill in the shoes. And I think the group is a little bit stronger."
Seattle will go into the 2014 season with the same belief that anything less than an MLS title is not success. But they'll do it with a completely overhauled roster, the result of the slide at the end of 2013.
The question of whether changes were needed stretched from the bottom of the roster all the way up to coach Sigi Schmid. Eventually, general manager Adrian Hanauer and majority owner Joe Roth decided keeping Schmid and remodeling the team was the path Seattle would travel.
It wasn't a complete overhaul. Evans is still around. So is Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins and rising homegrown star DeAndre Yedlin. Midfielder Osvaldo Alsonso was rewarded with a designated player contract and Seattle is about to get its first full season with Clint Dempsey on the roster.
But the names that are gone are notable. U.S. national team striker Eddie Johnson is now with D.C. United. Defensive center backs Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni are gone. Midfielder Mauro Rosales is now with Chivas USA. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is back in Europe.
It's a completely new look for Seattle and only success on the field will determine whether the right choices were made.
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