Sounders vs. Toronto

Of course Seattle Sounders fans get giddy at the start of every season, and every year we say "This is our year!" But there seems to be a more intense, even edgy, nervous energy about the start of this season. Partly that's because of the roster turnover, more extensive than at the beginning of 2010 or 2011, with retirements and eyebrow-raising trades. But goalkeeper Michael Gspurning has so far given us no particular reason to worry about his ability to replace icon (not to say deity) Kasey Keller. A crowd of 23,000 got a small taste of new forward Eddie Johnson at the March 7 CONCACAF match, and seemed impressed; he's going to get very little benefit of the doubt, though, considering we gave up two fan favorites for him, and his controversially uneven career, and that we've been burned before by hyped would-be saviors. But as of this writing we're undefeated in pre-MLS matches. Steve Zakuani's return, after a broken leg last June, is eagerly (not to say manically) anticipated. David Estrada, formerly David Who?, may be this season's Mauro Rosales, the hero who snuck in and shocked everyone. On paper, we could—we really could—take it all. On the other hand, fans are still reeling from the poleax blow of the first playoff game, last October 29—a 3-0 loss, our Alamo, our Titanic, our Pearl Harbor, which must be avenged and purged. So many question marks, but so much proven excellence. How will it all shake out? The MLS season opens tonight, against Toronto. GAVIN BORCHERT

Sat., March 17, 7 p.m., 2012

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