Seattle Sounders forward O'Brian White is looking to resurrect his once-promising career after a pair of injury-plagued and disappointing seasons at Toronto FC. (Photo courtesy of Sounders FC)
Over the past few years some players with great college seasons have joined MLS after winning the Hermann Trophy. Darlington Nagbe and Teal Bunbury were the last two, but prior to that Garey, O'Rourke, Wingert and Eskandarian have all had decent careers. This isn't the Heisman. Players that win are good, or better, players in the league. They represent national teams, join MLS or go to other leagues and fair well. Being a finalist (top 3 at end of season) or semifinalist (top 15 heading into season) generally indicates a few good years in the league.
There is at least one notable exception.
O'Brian White had an amazing 2007 with UConn. His 23 goals and 7 assists won him the Hermann Trophy. He stayed in school and in 2009 was drafted by Toronto FC where his time was seen as a failure. He was not a regular starter, and had a mere 4 goals (0.72 PP90) in his season and a half with health.
Sigi Schmid and Adrian Hanauer, though, saw something in him and acquired him in the post-expansion draft mayhem. White took that as enough of a sign that he joined the team prior to pre-season.
I'm definitely getting there. I think coming out there early before preseason and I got to play with guys before we started the preseason. I think that helped a lot with adjusting.
It's good so far. I'm adjusting to the weather. Lot of rain and stuff like that. I'm just adjusting to playing with the guys and enjoying it so far.
How White fits into the depth chart will be driven by two things. The health of the other forwards, particularly Nate Jaqua and Blaise Nkufo, is something over which he'll have no control. What he can control, though, is how hard he works, and the signals he gives the coaching staff that he's ready to perform as the collegiate and Jamaican youth performance shows he can.
I'm here to play. I'm not worried about where I'm gonna play. I just come out and work hard and the coach decides what he's gonna do. But I just work hard to play.
He's putting in work in training that has him popping up on lists as a potential breakout player. With Seattle potentially having more than 50 matches this season, having a player who scored 15 goals in 21 youth appearances with a CONCACAF national team can be exciting. As he puts more than 43% of his shots on goal, he can help pressure the opposition whether he converts or not.
More games will mean more chances, even with Seattle's depth at forward.
It's a lot of games, definitely. I'll be part of a lot of plays. I think it should definitely help to get into games.
With Jaqua and Mike Fucito ending the season as the 2nd team forwards and Lamar Neagle likely to join the team, White will have to fight for minutes, and show that his time with TFC was, well, time with TFC. The Sounders have shown a penchant for regularly replacing at least one forward with a bench player. White will get time, and even if he performs just at the level he had with TFC, he'll already be better than the 2010 performances by Sanna Nyassi, Pat Noonan, and Roger Levesque - by rate, counting or shot percentage.
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Quite simply, for O'Brian White and the Seattle Sounders this is an opportunity to resurrect a career young enough to still have promise.