Seattle Sounders: New Lineup Hopefully a Sign of Good Things to Come

It’s safe to say things haven’t gone exactly as planned this season for the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders sit sixth in the Western Conference with 35 points. They trail fifth place FC Dallas by three points and are eight behind the first place LA Galaxy.

Much of the team’s current place in the standings has to do with a recent slide that saw the team lose seven of eight games, claiming only three points out of a possible 24. The Sounders recently broke out of that slump in a big way thanks to an Obafemi Martins-fueled 4-0 home win Sunday versus Orlando City SC.

During the game, fellow new additions Nelson Valdez, Erik Friberg and Roman Torres also shined. The relatively new Thomas also showed well. Valdez added a goal of his own on a perfectly executed set-piece while Torres played solid defense at the back while also setting up Thomas’ goal with a deftly-played long ball. Not to be outdone, Friberg handed out an assist and won Man of the Match honors (at least according to WhoScored).

The additions of Valdez, Friberg, Torres and Thomas (likely) bring an end to a busy stretch for the Sounders. The team experienced quite a bit of turnover after last season’s triumphs. DeAndre Yedlin, Jalil Anibaba, Djimi Traore, Kenny Cooper, Josh Ford and Marcus Hahnemann were among the team’s more notable departures. Indirectly replacing them in the first team are not only the aforementioned quartet, but also Tyrone Mears, Cristian Roldan, Troy Perkins and fellow new arrival (though he didn’t play against Orlando) Andreas Ivanschitz. Younger players Oniel Fisher, Darwin Jones and Andy Craven were also added.

What has been crucial (at least when you consider the future) is that the team was able to keep its core together while also adding pieces that may end up being members of that core moving forward. This meant keeping the band (i.e. Martins, Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Stefan Frei and Osvaldo Alonso) together. Going on Sunday’s result alone, it would seem that Valdez, Friberg and Torres are all going to have large parts to play in Seattle’s success. Ivanschitz could also join that group. After all, you aren’t dubbed the Austrian David Beckham for nothing.

The Sounders will be hoping that this newly formed team will be able to go places and achieve things (cough…MLS Cup…cough) that no other Sounders incarnation has. With all the talent assembled, its safe to say the fans will be doing a great deal of hoping as well.

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NBA Playoff Teams with Local Connections

With the NBA playoffs underway, here’s a look at the NBA players with local connections playing on teams that made it to the postseason. Without an NBA team in Seattle, we tend to cheer on local players or players with connections to the state of Washington. It should also be pointed out that the team from Oklahoma missed the playoffs (insert synonym for the word “happy” here).

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks: Austin Daye

Austin Daye isn’t from Washington, but spent his college years at Gonzaga where he was a prolific shot blocker and led the Zags to NCAA tournament berths in each of his seasons in Spokane. Daye was the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons and now suits up for the Atlanta Hawks. He’s also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs. He won a ring with the Spurs in 2014.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Joe Harris

Joe Harris was born in Chelan, Washington and attended the University of Virginia where he played for four years under former Washington State head coach Tony Bennett. The former All-ACC performer has per-game averages of 2.7 points, .8 rebounds and .5 assists in his first season in Cleveland and in the league.

Chicago Bulls: Aaron Brooks

One of the NBA’s best “instant-offense” guards (which tends to be a common trend among Seattle-area guards), Brooks has had a fairly successful NBA career with the likes of the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. He currently plays for the Chicago Bulls where he has averaged 11.6 points a game off the bench this season in a similar role to the one fellow Washingtonian Nate Robinson played for the Bulls.

Toronto Raptors: Terrence Ross

Oregonian Terrence Ross played two years at the University of Washington before going pro and being selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. He’s started at least 61 games per season over the past two years for a successful Toronto club. He’s averaged 9.8 points and 2.8 rebounds a game this season and is a prolific dunker.

Washington Wizards: Martell Webster

After being drafted sixth overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2005 NBA draft, Webster has carved out a role as a bench scorer. After scoring 9.7 points a game for the Wizards last season, he’s down to 3.3 points a contest this year.

Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk

Starting with Tacoma natives Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, Boston has some strong ties to the Pacific Northwest. Thomas has joined another Washingtonian, Jamal Crawford, among the best offensive options off the bench. At 26-years-old, he looks to be part of the Celtics core for the long haul and is already off to a promising start as his level of play propelled the Celtics from a lottery-bound team to the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed.

Joining him in the Boston backcourt is Bradley who is a lock-down defender and solid offensive threat. The former McDonald’s All American averaged 13.9 points a game to go along with 3.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per contest.

Rounding out Boston’s group of players connected to the Pacific Northwest is Thomas’ partner in crime on Boston’s second unit, Kelly Olynyk. The former Gonzaga big man continues to improve in the NBA after averaging 8.7 points a game in his rookie season, he’s up to 10.3 points a contest this season. The center can step out to the three-point line and has a solid, low-post game.

Western Conference

(RELATED: Twitter’s Reaction to the team from Oklahoma missing the playoffs)

Golden State Warriors: Justin Holiday

The brother of Jrue Holiday, Justin played his collegiate ball at the University of Washington and has played for pro teams everywhere from Belgium to Hungary to Idaho. The wing has stuck on the Warriors’ roster where he’s scored 4.3 points a game and 1.2 rebounds per contest.

Houston Rockets: Jason Terry

The longtime Dallas Maverick is now suiting up for another Dallas team where he’s averaged 7.0 points a game to go along with 1.9 assists and 1.6 rebounds. The Jet has had a ridiculously productive NBA career with long stops in Atlanta and Dallas preceding shorter stars in Boston and Brooklyn. He won a ring with Dallas in 2010/2011.

Los Angeles Clippers: Jamal Crawford, Spencer Hawes, C.J. Wilcox

It’s probably fitting that the Steve Ballmer-owned Clippers have a large contingent of players with connections to the state of Washington.

Similar to Terry, Crawford has had a long and extremely productive career. He’s averaged 15.6 points a game throughout his career, which isn’t far from his 15.8 points a contest this season. He dropped 18.6 points a game last season and is widely regarded as one of, if not of if not the best sixth men in the league.

Another Seattle product, Spencer Hawes is a versatile big man who has found success as both a scorer and rebounder. He’s had a down season this year with a stat line that includes 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, but is still a productive and talented player. The former Husky has range on his jumper and is a solid source of offense from the center position.

Another former UW player suiting up for the Clippers is C.J. Wilcox, the developing wing player only got into 21 games on a stacked Clippers team, averaging 2.0 points a game.

Memphis Grizzlies: Jeff Green

One of the last former Sonics in the league, Jeff Green played his rookie season in Seattle, averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.

San Antonio Spurs: Aron Baynes

Former Washington State Cougar Aron Baynes played in numerous countries before landing with the Spurs. He made stops in Lithuania, Germany, Greece and Slovenia before joining Gregg Popovich’s team. The center had his best season to date this year with 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest.

New Orleans Pelicans: Quincy Pondexter

Former Washington Husky Quincy Pondexter started his career with the New Orleans Hornets in 2010/2011 before spending four seasons in Memphis with the Grizzlies. He’s back in New Orleans with the Pelicans and averaged a career-high 7.2 points per game this season.

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All stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.