SEATTLE - APRIL 03: Goalkeeper Terry Boss #28 of the Seattle Sounders FC attempts to block a shot during warmups prior to the game against the New York Red Bulls on April 3, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
The Sounders current logjam at the back end of the roster raises an issue the modern and well-informed sports fan may have trouble confronting; sometimes, you just don't know what you're talking about.
The Seattle Sounders may, in the coming weeks, find themselves in a bit of a tricky spot where the roster is concerned. Earlier this week came the news that former Vancouver Whitecaps defender Wes Knight was on trial with the Sounders, possibly giving the team a chance to add some much-needed depth at right back. The next day brought with it a far less pleasant development; backup goalkeeper Terry Boss may have suffered another concussion while playing for the Puerto Rican national team in a World Cup qualifier. Boss' health is clearly the most important thing in this situation; concussions are very scary injuries (and the more that is learned about them the more frightening they become) in their own right and this would be the big keeper's second in just six weeks. That's a dangerous situation and the odds that his season is over seem very high (and if they're not, they should be.)
Aside from Boss' prognosis, it could put the Sounders in a difficult position. Kasey Keller has not yet featured in a CONCACAF Champions League group stage game, and with some pretty major fixture congestion in the coming weeks it's likely both Keller and the team would like to keep it that way. While the Sounders have put themselves in a good position by winning their first two games in the group, they still have a bit of work to do if they hope to qualify and if Keller isn't available for those games that means their only (current) option is Josh Ford, a 23-year-old rookie who has yet to make an appearance for the senior team. And beyond CCL play, should Keller be lost to injury (perish the thought) that leaves Ford to handle the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.
Clearing room for one of the two players is fairly simple; O'Brian White is almost certainly lost for the year, which means a spot on the roster can be cleared by adding him to the injured list. But what if Seattle wants to add both players? Well, that means someone has to get cut. If there's no one Seattle wants to part with at the moment (which would be understandable, seeing how good they've been these past few months) that will leave them with three options; add Knight, add another keeper or do nothing.
If you're looking for insight on which of the three the Sounders should choose, you've come to the wrong place. I've never seen Josh Ford play. I'm pretty sure I've seen Wes Knight play, but I am just as sure that I don't remember a thing about it. In a world where we have so much access to information about teams, players, scouting reports and the like, it's tempting to want to have an opinion about everything. This is hardly limited to soccer; take for example all of the self-styled "prospect gurus" frequenting baseball blogs and forums whose opinions are largely informed by the small handful of minor league experts that follow the farm system of each team closely enough to have a valid opinions. Consider the arguments you've been witness to (or perhaps even participated in) about the final cuts made by an NFL team. And let's not even get into draft season, in any sport.
There comes a time when you just don't have enough information available to really have as informed an opinion as you'd like. And for the vast majority of Sounders fans, this is one of those times. There are probably three or four people on Earth who know enough about Josh Ford's readiness to take on a greater role with the team in order to feel strongly one way or the other. Likewise Wes Knight's ability to make a significant impact on this team or the quality of keepers currently available to the Sounders. That's not just limited to this situation either. Plenty of folks were incredulous when the Sounders opted not to sign Cillian Sheridan despite his playing in a Seattle shirt for just 45 minutes during a reserve league game.
Luckily, the Sounders front office has shown themselves to be pretty good at this stuff, and no matter what they decide to do with this (still completely theoretical) roster crunch, they should probably be given the benefit of the doubt. That doesn't mean they're faultless or above criticism, and one should always be careful not to fall prey to the Appeal to Authority fallacy. It's entirely possible they'll choose to do the wrong thing here; they've made missteps in the past and they'll do the same in the future. But they've gotten things right far more often than they've gotten them wrong. We've got a ton of information at our fingertips these days, enough that the formerly average fan is far more well equipped to craft thoughtful and well-informed opinions about their team's transfer strategy, tactical approach and personnel usage than ever before. But we don't have all of the information. In some situations, all we can do is base our opinions on past outcomes. This is one of those times.