Seattle Sounders such as Kenny Cooper, Chad Barrett, Marco Pappa, Jalil Anibaba, Marcus Hahnemann and Tristan Bowen all have been starters — some even stars — in Major League Soccer.
This season, they also have spent time on the Sounders’ MLS Reserve League team.
“It speaks to the depth of our team,” said Sounders assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson, who coaches the reserves. “It speaks to what we were able to do in the offseason to go out and make our team stronger from top to bottom. … The Coopers and the Barretts and the Pappas (were acquired) in case there are injuries or in case guys get out of form, which happens over the course of a year. We can have guys on the bench that we can feel comfortable that we can put in and not miss a beat.”
Hendrickson said building veteran depth was an offseason goal for the Sounders, who believed the lack of such players contributed to their 2013 late-season swoon.
The deeper roster not only provides depth, options and competition for the Sounders’ first team, but also trickles down to the reserve team.
Some of that was on display Sunday, when the reserves opened league play with a 3-2 win at Chivas USA. Seattle benefitted from a Chivas own goal, but the others came from Barrett, who has started 145 MLS regular season games over a 10-year career, and Bowen, who has started 28 over six seasons.
“This is probably one of the deepest teams I’ve ever been a part of — including the (Los Angeles) Galaxy,” said Bowen, who played for LA in 2009 and ’10. “There’s a lot of quality players I think could step into the first team and get the job done.”
The MLS Reserve League exists to provide game minutes for players who aren’t getting them with their first team. However, that effort is hampered by playing only seven league games from April to October. Because of that, the Sounders Reserves also have scheduled friendlies with nearby college teams. And next season, the club plans to field a team in the USL Pro Leagues.
“A USL Pro team, once the season starts, you’re probably going to play a game every week, week in and week out,” Hendrickson said. “And … you’re able to bring guys up from the USL Pro to the first team. I think it’s going to help a lot.”
Sounders FC hasn’t officially announced the creation of a USL Pro team for next season, but general manager Adrian Hanauer has said the club is leaning that way, with the new team likely based at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
The Sounders also haven’t determined how the MLS team will interact with the USL Pro team. The answer to that could influence whether Hendrickson retains his coaching duties with the new club — something he hopes to do.
“It might be a situation where the team is training the same time along with the first team. It might be a separate entity,” Hendrickson said. “I don’t think that has been determined yet. And definitely the coach of that team hasn’t been determined yet.
“But that is something that I would love to be a part of, and love to get the opportunity to grow in my career and help that team be successful.”
The Sounders Reserves will play their next league match at 1 p.m. Sunday, meeting the Colorado Rapids at Starfire Sports Stadium.
Midfielder Brad Evans was reported in good health Monday, two days after playing 23 minutes in Seattle’s 2-1 win at Chivas. Evans had missed the previous four MLS matches due to a calf injury. … Midfielder Clint Dempsey’s two-week run as MLS player of the week ended Monday, when Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando took the honor. Dempsey, who assisted on both Sounders’ goals at Chivas, received one first-place vote. … The Sounders trained lightly Monday at Starfire. Coach Sigi Schmid was absent, having chosen to spend extra time in the Los Angeles area after the Chivas match.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt