With the Sounders establishing ties in Tanzania, do we think the scope of their reach is complete? No way! While you can certainly spend too much on scouting and building a global brand, if you can afford it more is better. In Tanzania, the Sounders have three main goals: establish a base for scouting in an area that is not as saturated as elsewhere; give back to their community through charity efforts; and begin to establish direct economic and cultural ties.
Let's see how the Phillippines stack up. Scouting? The only players for the National Team playing overseas are ones who were born there (primarily Germany). While this is probably evidence that not many Filipino players could make it abroad, it also shows that, if there are players to be found, the Sounders are not going to have much competition. Charity? While this might help in the Phillippines, they are listed as a Medium Development country according to the UN's Human Development Index, a bit above Egypt but below the Palestinian Territories. They could certainly use the assistance, but there might be places where charity might help more. Economic/cultural ties? They're already there, but could be improved. Filipino-Americans form one of the largest Asian-American minorities in Seattle (if not the largest), and there are numerous Filipino businesses and cultural centers already located throughout the city. But I believe the goal is to establish international relations, not just cultural diversity at home. I will submit that international relations between Seattle and the Phillippines could be improved.
Another note: This is the first year back for a national Phillippines soccer competition after a 5 year hiatus. Connections with the Sounders could certainly help stablize the sport in a country with a huge possibility of growth.
A possible first step to make this connection happen? Give Phil Younghusband a trial.
Phil Younghusband is a 24 year old Phillippine National Team (the Akzals, or "street dogs") forward currently playing for San Beda FC of the Phillippines playing in the Smart Club Championships. Pretty exciting huh? Well, let me tell you more. Phil is 5'11", and grew up in England, playing in Chelsea's youth system 97-05, when he joined Chelsea's reserve team. He spent about 6 months on loan with Esbjerg, a Danish team, before rejoining Chelsea. His contract with Chelsea was up at the end of '08, after which he seems to have disappeared from club soccer for a few years. He kept playing with the Akzals, and has racked up 15 goals in 23 international appearances. He most recently scored 2 goals [here and here] in a World Cup qualifier against Sri Lanka this past month (the list of teams he scored against is not a distinguished list). Also, Phil seems to be tearing up their national league. While I wouldn't be surprised if Jaqua could be their top scorer, Phil is apparently doing things like scoring 13 goals in two games. Now, this is not to say that Phil would come and start alongside Montero. I seriously doubt Phil is used to playing against the type of defenders he'd see in the MLS. But I bet taking a look at him would be worth it.
The kicker? Phil has a brother, James. James is a year younger and has pretty much always played with Phil, be it at Chelsea, at San Beda, or with the Akzals. He also spent some time bouncing around random English clubs for a few years with Phil was with the Chelsea reserves. James plays right mid, is two inches taller than Phil, and has made 34 appearances with the Akzals with 5 goals. I have no idea how many assists he has. It sounds like they are quite the pair, and I wouldn't mind seeing James get time with the Sounders as well.
Funny story: the Phillippines National team had no idea that the Younghusbands existed or were eligible to play for the Akzals until someone playing FIFA found them listed on Chelsea's reserve squad, realized they were eligible, and sent an anonymous email notifying the national team of their eligibility.
Another possible Sounder, one I realize is probably out of our grasp but I'd love to see if I had a wish list of Filipino players to choose from: Neil Etheridge. Neil is a 21 year old goalkeeper for Fulham, who played with the Younghusbands for a few years at Chelsea before joining Fulham's youth system. Neil is the starter for the Akzals, and is under contract with Fulham through 2013. He seems to be Fulham's third stringer, and possibly their keeper for the future. Witnessing the quality of 3rd string EPL goalkeepers myself this past month, I'd love to have him. He'd probably make a quality replacement for Kasey next year, but I'd guess he's out of our price range.
What do you all think, would it behoove the Sounders to establish a base in Asia similar to their work in Tanzania? If so, are the Phillippines it? While I realize the players I've identified were trained in England, do you agree that signing them and building relationships with clubs in the Phillippines could produce similar players down the road? Or, at least, similar to players we would find in Tanzania? Is going East the next logical step for the Sounders?