Six Degrees: 2017 Season Preview

My God, is this real? Is C.I. really doing a season preview?

Yes. As we enter my fifth season writing this Six Degrees column for Slide Rule Pass, I’m doing my first-ever out-of-season column. Crazy, right?

What can I say? The team’s got me excited. They’re making me want to write words.

So let’s do it. Let’s see if I can shoehorn my thoughts and hopes and worries and bad jokes into six semi-coherent sections.

1) The off season.

2016 was a frustrating season, filled with injuries, woeful road form, injuries, a lack of goals from anyone not named Adi or Valeri, injuries, an aging roster, injuries, a final week that made fans want to set themselves on fire, and of course, injuries.

What has the team done in the off season to fix these problems?

As far as the injuries go, I don’t know what can be done about that. Replace the medical staff? Hire a new trainer? Light some candles and pray?1 I genuinely have no idea and won’t pretend otherwise.

Also mystifying is last year’s road form, and I doubt that’s something that can be fixed with off season moves. Because I don’t think it originates on the field, but in the team’s collective mind. A road win early in 2017 might fix the entire problem. But if we’re still road-winless in June or July? Call in the psychologists, because this team will be in a bad mental place. As will I.

The aging roster, that’s something that can be fixed in the off season. Step one: get Jack Jewsbury, Nat Borchers, and Ned Grabavoy2 to retire. Step two: sign a bunch of T2 youngsters to first team contracts, including 18-year old Marco Farfan, the first player to make it all the way from the Timbers Academy to the first team. Will any of these new guys actually play? Caleb Porter has a bad history when it comes to playing the kids, but at least they’re on the roster, right? At least they’ll be at practice every day. And who knows, if there’s a blowout win or a short week or – heaven forbid – an injury, maybe they’ll get some meaningful minutes.

Finding goals from people not named Adi and Valeri? That’s something the team definitely addressed in the off season, but we’ll get into that later in the column

For now, just know that it’s been an active off season. Some of our 2016 problems have been addressed, some of them may have been addressed, and some of them can’t be addressed until we’re actually out there playing.

Speaking of playing, the Timbers have already had a few preseason “games.” I put quotation marks around that because, let’s be honest, they’re barely games at all. The players are out of shape, they’re still getting to know each other, there are no substitution limits, and there’s no real pressure to win. For these and a thousand other reasons, you’d be a fool to read too much into preseason games.

But of course, sometimes it’s fun to be a fool. So, let’s do it, eh? Let’s foolishly make some preliminary judgments based on glorified scrimmages that mean pretty much nothing.

2) The defense.

Portland’s defense is a case of good news/bad news.

The good news? One, Jake Gleeson‘s solid in goal and he’s got good depth behind him. Two, it looks like the fullbacks are gonna crush it this year.

Last season, Vytautus Andriuskevicius3 and Alvas Powell combined for one assist. This preseason, they have three. They’ve been coming forward like crazy, working the give-and-go with the wingers, and sending in some very dangerous crosses. All this is good.

Will this attacking mentality leave us exposed in the back? Perhaps. But if Vytas and Alvas can take turns going forward and staying back, that should help. Another thing that will help? The midfield. But more on that in a second.

The bad news regarding the defense? The center backs are a complete mystery. Their strengths, their weaknesses, hell, even their names are a mystery. Liam Ridgewell is pretty much a sure thing to start on the left. Yes, I’ll agree that his form fell a bit in 2016, but that may partially be because of who started next to him. Wait… who did start next to him? I seem to remember about seven or eight guys bumbling around over there. Could we please get some continuity next to Ridgy?

No. Apparently that is not something we can do. Ridgewell’s running mate was going to be young Nigerian international Gbenga Arokoyo, but since this is Portland, where torn ligaments are as common as food carts, his season ended during the first week of practice. Good times, good times…

So who will be starting next to Ridgy? No one has any idea. Maybe converted defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum. Maybe the very young, very large, and very untested Rennico Clarke. Maybe as-of-late-February-still-playing-in-Costa-Rica veteran Roy Miller. Maybe I-think-at-this-point-he’s-played-literally-every-position-on-the-field Zarek Valentin. Or maybe the unknown high profile center back who the team insists it’s signing but is still unknown two weeks before the season starts.4

In other words, the center back pairing of 2017 could be a repeat of the center back pairing of 2016: Ridgy and Who The Fuck Knows.

3) The midfield.

But there are two reasons we maybe shouldn’t worry too much about our center backs, and those two reasons are named Diego Chara and David Guzman.

We all know Diego Chara, of course. He’s short, he’s hard, he’s got a yellow card, aaaaaaaand he’s a heat-seeking missile powered by weapons-grade plutonium. If you’re an opposing player with the ball in the midfield, and you don’t see Diego Chara, be afraid. Be very afraid. Because in about two seconds, you’re going to be picking yourself up off the ground, wondering what the hell just happened.

If you’re new to the Timbers and haven’t picked a favorite player yet, you should seriously consider Chara. He’s wonderful. He puts out fires left and right, and does it all with a smile that lights up the stadium. Also, there’s this.

As great as Chara has been in the past, it’s possible he’s going to be even better this year, as he’s got a new running mate: David Guzman. Poached from Saprissa – a.k.a. the Costa Rican club that bounced us out of the CONCACAF Champions League – Guzman will be setting up next to Chara in the central defensive midfield. We’ve only seen him play five games so far, and all of them were preseason games with preseason rules and preseason expectations, so clearly we shouldn’t put too much weight on them. That being said… DEAR GOD, GUZMAN LOOKS GOOD.

No, but seriously, he looks so good. He and Chara look like they’ve been playing together for years. Their ability to smoothly switch position – one moving forward, one sitting deep – is utterly seamless. Like Chara, Guzman’s a tireless worker and a completely disruptive ball-winner. And he might be an even better passer than Chara, making quick, smart, precise passes all over the field.

And so I return to my original point: if Chara and Guzman can be this insanely good all season, we may not need our center backs to be all that amazing. Chara and Guzman may combine to act a bit like a third center back. And with three center backs, those wonderful fullbacks I mentioned will have the freedom to move forward and join the attack.

Now, I know I’ve called this degree “The Midfield,” but I’m going to stop with just Chara and Gooz. Because, sure, Diego Valeri‘s officially a midfielder, but it feels much more appropriate to talk about him in…

4) The attack.

Now we get to the real strength of the team. With the four guys we’ve got up front, there’s a chance Portland could have the best offense in the league this year. And who gives a fuck about a sketchy defense when you’re scoring seven goals a game, amiright?

Let’s start with our striker, Fanendo Adi. Having led the team with 16 goals in each of the last two years, there were a lot of people expecting Adi to depart for richer leagues abroad. Fortunately, he’s back, and the way the team’s set up, the big fella might be bagging 20+ goals this year.5 But Adi will help the offense even when he’s not scoring, thanks to a kind of gravitational influence. When he’s in the box, defenders gravitate towards him. And two or three defenders drifting toward Adi’s big 6’4” frame in the center of the box opens a lot of space for his teammates to take advantage of.

Diego Valeri will probably be our second leading scorer, as well as our leading assist man. I predicted 15 and 15 for him last year. He only gave us 14 and 7, the bum. Playing mostly in the center of the pitch, Valeri’s definitely the straw that stirs the Timbers drink. Don’t be surprised, though, to see him constantly shifting from left to right to central. We’ve got three guys this year who I think will be shifting positions almost constantly. Valeri’s the first.

The second is Darlington Nagbe. When needed, he can drive things in the center of the pitch. He’s also played a ton of right winger. This year, though, Coach wants him to focus on the left wing. The hope is that he’ll be able to cut inside and use his favored right foot to shoot on goal. Will Nagbe actually shoot? This remains to be seen. It’s not his nature. But if it’s Coach’s orders? I’m sure Nags can force himself to be selfish. We’ve already seen some very nice shots from him this preseason. Always remember, though: Nagbe’s the type of player who, even when he’s not scoring, is helping the team. He’s one of those players who’s always making the pass before the pass that leads to the goal.

Over on the right wing is our newest Argentine DP, Sebastian Blanco. Our last Argentine DP was Lucas Melano, and we payed a lot of money for his potential. This time is different. Blanco’s not here for potential. He’s here for proven skill. And from what we’ve seen in the preseason, he’s the real deal. He could not look more comfortable out there. Great interplay between him and Alvas Powell, easy shifting from right to central to left, confidence with either foot, and genuine work on the defensive side. For two years, Timbers fans waited for Melano to show us something. We only had to wait about two minutes for Blanco. He’s gonna be a good one.6

5) The bench.

The biggest story of 2016 was injuries. The second biggest story was how our bench wasn’t good enough to carry us through all those injuries. And so the team spent the off season trying to fix that. Trying to get younger, get deeper, get better. Based solely on these meaningless preseason games, I’d say they’ve succeeded.

As far as late game subs go, here are the guys I think we’ll see the most: Darren Mattocks at striker and left winger. Dairon Asprilla at right winger. Victor Arboleda at left or right. Jack Barmby at left, right, or central midfield.

Jack McInerney? I think he’ll be traded. His salary’s a little too high to sit on the bench. Better to give his occasional minutes to rookie Jeremy Ebobisse.7

As far as the rest of the bench goes, we’ll probably only see them in case of injury. In 2016, that meant Every Fucking Game. Hopefully, in 2017, it means Never.

I’ve recently learned how to make depth charts that are so official-looking they could fool someone into thinking I actually know what I’m talking about. Which, of course, I don’t.

Impressive-looking graphic, eh? Makes me look like a total baller.  Aww, yeah.

6) The predictions.

Making just one prediction seems too easy. And too easy to get wrong. So here are three predictions instead. Three ways 2017 could play out.

Best case scenario: no major injuries. The offense is tremendous. The central defense is protected by Chara and Gooz. We play beautiful, high pressure, high possession soccer and score goals by the bushel. Top 3 all season long. In the running for the Supporter’s Shield. Perform well in the playoffs. Put a second star above the crest.

Worst case scenario: non-stop injuries, just like 2016. The bench handles it better than last year, but our kids get a bit more experience than they’re ready for. The central defense is too weak for Chara and Gooz to protect. The offense scores goals, but not by the bushel, giving us a goal differential near zero. We hover around the red line all year. We miss the playoffs by the thinnest of margins. We fire the entire medical staff.

Somewhere in between scenario: a few injuries, but nothing insane like 2016. The bench is okay, not great. The kids get some experience, but not too much. The central defense isn’t great, but Chara and Gooz do just enough to make them average. Our offense isn’t the stuff of wet dreams, but it’s solidly above average. We spend the season bouncing between 2nd and 5th in the West. We hope to get hot in the playoffs. We bid Adi a fond farewell as he jets off to England or Spain or wherever, a trail of thousand dollar bills in his wake.

Clearly, the third option is a very reasonable scenario, and one I think we could all live with.

But since it’s pre-season, why have reasonable expectations? We’ve got a week or so until Opening Day. Let’s be unreasonable. The team looks fucking great, amiright? We’re gonna steamroll the league, amiright? Adi’s not scoring 20 goals, he’s scoring 30! We’re winning every game 7-3! We’re not winning the Cup with zero shots on goal, we’re winning it with 47 shots on goal, amiright? It’s an odd-numbered year and that means one thing: the Portland Timbers are loaded for bear. Get your scarves, get your two-sticks, get your green, get your gold. The Timbers are going the set the league on fire. This is our year.

And that is my official prediction. At least for the next week or so.

  1. Insert dumb candle joke here. Did you know you can read these dumb joke footnotes without actually clicking on them? Just float your cursor over the number and my dumb joke will magically appear. It’s easy and fun! Fun, but not always funny. 

  2. combined age: 173 

  3. you’re damn right I spelled it correctly on the first try. I’m in mid-season form, baby! 

  4. alas, the team won’t be signing Cameroonian center back Yaya Banana, which I think we can all agree is the first great tragedy of 2017. 

  5. at which point I expect some European club to offer us a bag of money so large it blacks out the sun 

  6. also, am I wrong, or is Blanco now the best-looking guy on the team? I kind of want his nickname to be Sgt. Handsome. 

  7. whose last name frustrates me. Ee-bo-BEE-say? Eh-BO-bisay? I may hit him up on Twitter just to ask about this. 

21 Comments Six Degrees: 2017 Season Preview

  1. Nick Garner (@nmgarner)

    In the lineup, I thought Asprilla would be more likely to play left than Arboleda but I can’t remember who was where in preseason.

    I hope we can find a good home for McInerney. With Porter recently talking about possibly using a 4-4-2 at times, one might think he could have a chance to partner with Adi or Mattocks but it seems like we would have seen that tried by now if it were expected to work. Regardless, it sounds like his salary cap hit is problematic. I like the swagger he brings to a team notoriously lacking in the brass balls department but he doesn’t get enough minutes to make an appreciable impact in that respect.

    1. C.I. DeMannC.I. DeMann

      I feel like JackMac is some sad cautionary tale. What it’s cautioning us against, I’m not sure, but it’s sad. When he was an 18 year old, banging goals in for Philly, he looked like the future of US Soccer. Since then, he’s been on a ton of teams, never shining anywhere. I do think he’s got skill. There must be some team who could give him starter’s minutes.

      As far as the 4-4-2 goes, I’d enjoy Adi and Mattocks. Sort of a Thunder and Lightning pairing.

      And I’m really high on Ebobisse. Seems like a good person, a hard worker, and a guy who produces for the U20 team. Plus, he’s cheap.

  2. John Lawes

    Not just excited, but quick, too; I banged out the preceding Thorns piece this morning and didn’t see this one in the queue when I closed the browser at 8:30…

    I was very pleased by the performance against Vancouver, especially the first half before the ‘Caps reverted to their old familiar thugging. The good news is that any team that tries to play this Timbers starting XI straight up is going to have a load on their hands. The bad news is that I suspect that we’ll see a LOT of teams going to the boot early on. We’ll have to see how well the Timbers deal with that.

    The rest of the preseason? Yeah…kind of hard to really get anything out of that mess.

    Rather than concerned at any particular position or part of the pitch (tho the CB’s…mmmm, yeah) I am concerned with depth. Our starters – with the possible exception of the CBs – look terrific. But behind them…well, look at your graphic. Behind Chara is…Nagbe? I reeeeally don’t want to see Nags as DM, but then behind him is Z-man, and he looked as gawky in preseason as he did last season. There’s just not a whole lot of there there.

    Let’s hope that we worked off out bad injury mojo last season, then.

    1. C.I. DeMannC.I. DeMann

      When I think of Nagbe backing up Chara, it’s more of a #8. Kind of like we did with the 4-3-3 in the Cup run. Chara at the 6, Nags at the 8, Valeri at the 10. If Chara goes down, I could see Nags slotting between Gooz and Valeri. Not perfect, but possibly something Porter would do.

      I’m with you on the injuries. My God, last year was frustrating. And then Arokoyo goes down. Madness. To be honest, John, I wonder how many teams can handle serious serious injuries. MLS teams, at least. Barca can, but that’s because they have unlimited money. Their third string would probably win MLS Cup. Alas, we have the cap, and there you are. These T2 guys are cheap, though. As is Ebobisse. I’m quite happy about this new commitment to youth. I hope it lasts.

  3. Timber Dave

    Hah! You think writing “Andriuskevicius” shows you’re in mid-season form? Well then, tackle this: “Andriuškevičius”. Any old punk can write Andriuskevicius, but it takes a real pro to write Andriuškevičius.

    [Not that I am one: I had to copy and paste. I have no idea how to type š or č.]

    1. Roy Gathercoal

      From my long-ago linguistics days–Windows allows you to use keyboard to enter some diacrits.

      š = ALT + 0154 č = 010D (I don’t remember how to enter this via keyboard) The whole list is in the Character Reference Table under “accessories.”

      There are also several small utilities that enable you to enter special characters. “All Characters” is one of them. . .

      For any old-timers out there–do you remember from ASCII-art days?

  4. Emmett Ray

    Right back still concerns me – especially after watching Chance Meyers blunder around the preseason field like a wind-up toy with a bent leg. Alvas still does not look like he has learned positional defending and continues to rely on his recovery speed to tackle players instead of defending. “Forever 21” is starting to get long on the tooth for the youth excuse to work any more – he has too much experience in this league to be committing basic defending unforced errors again and again. . .

    1. C.I. DeMannC.I. DeMann

      It makes me think of a basketball star who spends his first years as a dunk machine,then when the legs start to go, he learns to shoot fadeaway jumpers. Maybe Alvas’s career will follow that path. The question is: when will the legs go?

  5. C.I. DeMannC.I. DeMann

    Someone on Twitter told me to think of Boba Fett from Star Wars. E-Boba Fett. E-Boba See. I approve of any mnemonic device that allows me to be a Star Wars nerd.

  6. Roy Gathercoal

    It is SO GOOD to read you back again!

    I have been meaning to ask–is C.I. an abbreviation of something, or is it really “See, I De Man”? Just seems so appropriate and so very much a coincidence to be accidental–but then that is what makes coincidence interesting. . .

    I am really hyped about this season, although I also believe the team has stumbled a few times because of psychology. e.g., last week of last season. . .

    The difference in performance between 2014, 2015, and 2016 in terms of real wins/losses is relatively small. People seem to forget that we did not blow anyone away during the regular season in 2015. . . amazing how a cup causes mass amnesia!

    Fact of the matter is, the MLS has been rigged to make it a photo finish each season. This was implemented after the early days of MLS when it almost failed to catch fire nationally because only three or four teams had any conceivable chance of the cup each season. US sports fans love underdogs, and love cinderellas. We don’t love someone else’s team being unassailable. This is very different from European and Latin American soccer culture, where it doesn’t make a lot of difference in my level of support if my team won or lost last season–I am much more likely to have inherited my team from my dad or granddad than to have come to an independent decision in college or early adulthood. What is more, it is entirely unlikely that my team preference will change–no matter how awful they might become.

    So we should not be so surprised that the margin between “agony and defeat” is so slim.

    MLS is growing up fast. Each year the overall quality of the league is making huge gains, so that if a team with a winning team one year stands pat on its roster, chances are it won’t do perform well next season, simply because everyone else has improved so much.

    Again, this is intentional. The GAM and TAM programs are a specific attempt to be able to retain good players from the previous season, and to bolster the 4-7 spots on the roster. Both seem to be working as imagined.

    The combination of these two factors means we cannot judge this season’s roster against the previous year. This is the big error of last year. Sorry, but as good as he was, Jorge Villafaña was not the one player that took us from a championship to a losing team. And Rodney Wallace and Will Johnson were not even regular starters by the end of the season. No, it was not primarily a matter of personnel changes that made the difference.

    Depth might be the answer, although depth doesn’t matter nearly so much if you don’t get constantly dinged with injuries. My recollection is that at the beginning of the miracle run in 2015 Caleb Porter said something like “we are finally mostly healthy, just in time for this final run.” In 2016, that was hardly the case.

    Which brings us to the psychology issue. We were not significantly a different team in game 30 than we were in game 34 of last season. Yet we seemed to have simply folded that entire last week. Not because of personnel.

    There was some clue about this in a recent Caleb Porter interview on Extratime radio on In it he talked about the recent preseason in Arizona and how he didn’t put much stock in the need for team building here at the professional level, because the players are adults and professionals. Yet he allowed that even the silly trip to the go-karts might have made a positive difference in the locker room.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, Coach Porter put too little emphasis on inducing motivation and the will to win (tonight) in the players last season, instead relying primarily on tactics to get us through games? Perhaps even that provided enough rope for the immature Asprilla to hang himself–twice? Even as adults and professionals, professional athletes cannot self-motivate enough to cut it in the extreme competition of the game. They need to be performing in the adrenaline range, and perhaps not even the seasoned veterans can reliably do that every game–especially away from home.

    If this is the case, then the improved roster this year may be improved even further by Porter’s rediscovery of the role of motivation in the coach’s responsibilities. To quote several folks from the initial stages of the coaching transition from Spencer, “the players have to be willing to crawl through glass for this coach.” There is some truth to that. Whether military combat or a regional sales meeting, prep for an important court hearing, production floor quota meeting or a professional sports locker room–part of being human is the inability to internally turn on all our resources at will.

    Sometimes, when a loved one’s life is in danger, we find we can lift far more than we ever thought possible.

    Our support at games does matter. The players will perform at a higher level if the Army is at its best. And some of those razor-thin margin games–the ones which turn on a couple of special moments–will go in our favor if the team is that little bit better prepared to fight on that field. Having a better roster will certainly help, but perhaps no roster can replace some good old fashioned pep talk motivation.

    1. C.I. DeMannC.I. DeMann

      Good to have you back, too, Roy.

      Psychology is a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a conundrum. I’m glad I’m not responsible for solving it in the Timbers locker room. I’d love to hope Caleb’s found the perfect recipe this year, but we won’t know that until November or December. (hopefully December) In the meantime, we do what we always do: grit our teeth, pull out our hair, and shout curses at the sky. At least, that’s what I do. It rarely works. I will continue it anyway.

  7. jdlawes

    Interesting thing about those glass-crawling players tho, Roy; they couldn’t beat freakin’ Chivas USA if Spencer held the other end of the stick. So while not questioning the value of team spirit and player motivation tactical incompetence can kill both as easily as not going to the go-kart place. I can still recall the frustration visible in the team on the pitch as Spencer’s Paleolithic tactics failed again and he was helpless trying to adjust.

    I suspect we’ll see this season if the injuries pile up again; I distrust the bench, but if Porter has instilled the Will to Win perhaps the spirit may be stronger than the bench is weak…

    1. Roy Gathercoal

      I certainly agree that talent and tactics are necessary. I am suggesting they are necessary but not sufficient–at least in MLS at this time, and perhaps everywhere in pro sports.

      I’m not so sure Spencer’s tactics were paleolithic–not sure soccer is that old–but he certainly did cause unnecessary tension with his inability to communicate with, and perhaps to work, Merritt Paulson. Once you have visible conflict within the top echelons in an organization, productivity–and especially risk-taking–tends to disappear. Kris Boyd was not as bad as his performance here would suggest. And we had several of the pieces we treasure now. . .

      I really do suspect that if Spencer’s interpersonal and communication skills were better, and especially if he could get into the modern soccer manager mindset when the owner wants to play, the outcome would have been much different. I think that once Paulson and Spencer began to feud–and you know it must have been worse up close than from the public view–there were few players willing to open a glass door, let alone crawl on anything, for either of them.

      Spencer left and Porter–with lots of experience of working with administrators and vocal fans/parents–arrived. The fences were quickly mended, Paulson stepped back, having learned that a good manager needs room to work, and things with the Timbers Army also got better.

      I would love to have the access needed to do a thorough organizational communication analysis of this team and its short but rich history in MLS.

      1. fdchief218

        Thing is…the Timbers are like a forest pool compared to the Thorns. Someday I hope someone will write an inside-the-locker-room-tell-all about the 2013 season. I’ll bet that sucker would be a bestseller.

        I think that Spencer had pretty good communication skills; he seems to have had a terrific rapport with the players, it always seemed like his team loved the hell out of him. But he was clueless tactically. Boyd wasn’t the “problem” he was touted to be…but he WAS a problem in that he was a poaching striker on a team that had no midfield creator(s), nobody to make the runs to draw defenders off him, or any support from the flanks. He, like Kenny Cooper before him, was just stranded up top as his teammates made futile attempts to cross in to him…

        So I think the problem wasn’t that he couldn’t work with Merritt. I think his problem was that he tried to play MLS 2012 with the sort of tactics that MIGHT have worked in MLS 2002 (or, more likely, Preston North End 1982…)

        In fact…if I had to pick one I’d say Porter’s the one who seems to be kind of close-mouthed. His pressers often make him seem snappish and “you can’t possibly know more than I do” dismissive; I wonder if he acts that way towards Merritt (doubt it, but, still…) He certainly seems to run into repeated instances where he “loses” players and ends up having to unload them because they don’t want to play for him anymore…he DOES seem to have the sense not to unload on the fans, or the FO.

        But he does seem to have some motivational skill and his tactics have been, at least, solid enough to keep things respectable most of the time…

        So I think that a winning coach/manager has to have both the tactical intelligence to convince his players they’re not going to be sent out with a hopeless plan AND the personal ability to bond the team and infuse them with the spirit to play hard and win…

  8. Timber Dave

    Totally agree about the average quality of MLS teams rising fast. We’ve been looking really good in pre-season, thanks in part to Guzman and Blanco, but I fear other teams (Dallas comes to mind) are equally good if not better. I’ll be very interested to see how we do come the regular season.

    1. C.I. DeMannC.I. DeMann

      And if we’ve learned anything through the years, it’s that we’ll probably look like the best team in the league for a few weeks, then turn around and shit the bed for a few weeks, then repeat over and over for 34 games. Ah, sports! The best kind of crazy!

      1. Timber Dave

        Seattle too. They were really good last year after the Sigi-for-Lodeiro swap. And now Dempsey is back. Teams will figure out how to defend them, as they will us, but Seattle will still be good.

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