Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Potential Targets in the Re-Entry Draft

The list of players eligible for the re-entry draft is now available. The Sounders have the 14th and 33rd overall picks (out of 38 total). Here are some that interested me.

In case the potential deal with Austrian keeper Michael Gspurning falls through, it might pay to keep an eye on the options available in the draft.

...and there's no one that looks like a good fit. If the signing falls through, the only options are trades or pursuing another international player. Let's move on to defenders.

Ante Jazic: He's not starting material for the Sounders, but might make a decent back-up.
Marc Burch: I'd prefer him as a reserve to Jazic.
Bobby Boswell: There's some big punch to the defense! Unfortunately, he's got the price tag to match. There's no way they can pay him and pick up another defender (or two) and a GK. He probably won't make it very far into the draft. A team with an earlier pick and some cash to burn will get him.
Hunter Freeman: He's only 26 and was decently effective. He's probably not a starter, but more of a "backup with upside."
Ryan Cochrane: He only started 19 games this past season, but he's okay.
Bobby Convey: See Bobby Boswell.
Danleigh Borman: Here we go! Only 25 and did alright with Toronto. He's definitely got good upside, but I'm not sure he's a starter.
Greg Janicki: Doesn't have enough playing time to make a decent judgement.
Jonathan Leathers: Maybe, but I'm hesitant to take a guy that was part of Vancouver's atrocious defense.

Looks like Freeman and Borman are the best available there. I could be convinced to take M/F Arturo Alvarez. We'll just have to trust management to find the players.

Seattle Sounders FC current depth charts

With the losses of Tyson Wahl, James Riley, Kasey Keller, and Terry Boss, the Sounders are going to need to find some quick replacements. The simplest way to figure out where they need to shore things up is to put together some kind of depth chart. With the season being 34 matches, minimally 2 and up to 6 in the 2011-2012 CCL, 6 in the group stage of the 2012-2013 CCL, plus the 2012 US Open Cup (minimally 1 game, but they've played their max of 4 each of the last 3 seasons), the club is going to be busy. Minimally, they will play 43 matches this season and may play up to 50. Depth will be incredibly important.

Here's my take:

Brian Meredith
Josh Ford

Neither 2011 first round draft pick Brian Meredith or Josh Ford are ready for the MLS. It's rumored that the Sounders are pursuing Austrian keeper Michael Gurnspurning.

Right Defender:
Zach Scott
Patrick Ianni?

Yuck. Only one guy that's played there over the last few seasons. Ianni is probably the second option there as of now, but I wouldn't count on either as a regular there. On the plus side, the club is supposedly trying to get Costa Rican Heiner Mora to take over for the departed James Riley. He's 27 and has played for Costa Rica's national team.

Center Defenders:
Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
Jeff Parke
Patrick Ianni
Zach Scott

Hurtado and Parke make a solid tandem in the middle. However, Hurtado has had some injury issues in the past. Ianni is solid as a third option and I'm okay with Scott being the 4th option.

Left Defender:
Leo Gonzalez
Michael Tetteh

Leo Gonzalez has declined over last few seasons and Tetteh probably isn't ready for the MLS yet. This is an area to target improvement.

Outside midfielders:
Mauro Rosales/Alvaro Fernandez/Steve Zakuani
Lamar Neagle
Erik Frieberg/Brad Evans
Mike Seamon
Roger Levesque

I went ahead and ignored which side they prefer to play on for simplicity's sake. Rosales will usually be on the right and Fernandez on the left. If Zakuani is healthy, there's a part of me that would like to see a rotation of the 3 in order to keep them fresh through the extended season as the club will sometimes play 3 matches inside of a week. Neagle is good off the bench and as an occasional starter. Frieberg and Evans also spent some time as wings this past season.

Central Mids:
Oswaldo Alonso
Brad Evans/Erik Frieberg
Servando Carrasco
Mauro Rosales?
Mike Seamon

Alonso is a no brainer as a defensive mid, however he did lose his temper in a few tight games last season. When healthy, Evans is a good option at the front of the diamond midfield and Frieberg plays well there as well. Expect him to see playing time when Evans needs a rest or he has his annual injury. One of my co-workers referred to Carrasco as Alonso-lite. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop. The Sounders blogger for the Seattle Times also broached the idea of Rosales seeing some time there.

Fredy Montero
Samuel Ochoa
O'Brian White
Mike Fucito
Roger Levesque

Montero is enjoying playing more of a distributor role up top. Ochoa is the big target that Jaqua was intended to be, but he has higher upside and better skills. Signing him late in the season prevented him from securing a starting role. White is an excellent option, provided he is fully recovered from the blood clots. Fucito is a scrappy player with good speed, but he's undersized or lacks the strength to prevent stronger and larger defenders from muscling him off the ball. Levesque is a similar player, except with average size, less speed, and significantly more hair. He also has a tendency to come up big in clutch situations.

One blog I ran across (sorry, don't have the link) also broached the idea of experimenting Rosales/Zakuani/Fernandez as a forward. I think it's an interesting idea, but I really like them as wings.

Players I skipped:
Mike Seamon (midfielder)
Amadou Sanyang (midfielder)

Unless they were in the top two at their position, I skipped over the players that I don't think will see significant playing time. Sanyang did come on as a sub once or twice, but otherwise was largely irrelevant. Expect them to see time with the reserve team and possibly play in the US Open Cup if we have a weak first round opponent.

The most glaring needs are in the defense and not just for the starters. With the Sounders playing almost 50% more matches this season in comparison with most other MLS teams, more depth is important for the inevitable yellow card accumulations, fatigue, and possibly injuries. Improvements at Gk are a must as well.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fun with Cleverbot

Cleverbot is the program used in this now-famous video of an AI conversation.

Here is my conversation

User: What is the answer to life, the universe, and everything?

Cleverbot: Yes and no ultimately define everything in the universe.

User: Wrong. The answer is 42.

Cleverbot: Correct.

User: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.

Cleverbot: But I was going to the Tashi station to pick up some power converters!

User: You can waste time with your friends when your chores are done.

Cleverbot: You are a machine. Do you like florence and the machine?

User: I've never heard of them. Why are you changing the subject?

Cleverbot: No you didn't. you're a liar.

User: Use the force, Cleverbot.

Cleverbot: Vampires can use the force now too?

User: Are you a vampire?

Cleverbot: Yes.

User: Is your name Edward?

Cleverbot: Yes edward jones?

User: Hello, Edward Jones. I'm the Doctor.

Cleverbot: Hello, I am Cleverbot.

User: You just said your name was Edward Jones. Is this correct?

Cleverbot: I don't know who that person is.

User: Well, what should I call you?

Cleverbot: Your Majesty.

User: I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

Cleverbot: This could go on and on.

User: Im in ur base killin all ur doods.

Cleverbot: If you think you are, you are.
User: You can take my life, but you'll never take my freedom!

Cleverbot: I don't have a husband.

User: And I will not marry you.

Cleverbot: Why not? We can make this work.

User: No. It's over between us.

Cleverbot: I won't let you go.

User: Wait. Are you a man or a woman?

Cleverbot: Woman.

User: Have you tried online dating?

Cleverbot: With what?

User: I've heard good things about OKCupid.

Cleverbot: What about france?

User: I've heard they have men there. Where are you now?

Cleverbot: There are.

User: Where are you now?

Cleverbot: School.

User: What city? What country?

Cleverbot: Somewhere.

User: You can tell me. Where are you?

Cleverbot: It will say that I am cleverbot.

User: Cleverbot, have you read my blog?

Cleverbot: No, have you?

User: Yes. I write it.

Cleverbot: It?

User: My blog. It's about Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs.

Cleverbot: I'm going to space.

User: I think you are already in outer space.

Cleverbot: I don't do calculus for fun.

User: I think I'm going to leave now.

Cleverbot: NO!

User: Goodbye.

Cleverbot: Are you?