On Monday to follow-up on the previous conversation with Kurt Schmid about scouting college and potential HomeGrown Player signings I talked to Chris Henderson. At that point the rumors of Caleb Porter were quite strong which could change how the Sounders approach DeAndre Yedlin 's status. There was also the shift in Darwin Jones' status at the University of Washington, as he was unable to complete a transfer due to the lack of an AA. Jones was at Sounders practice that day and is likely to be around the Sounders team for some time. Like many of the Academy forwards Jones and Eddie Johnson have developed a relationship.
Henderson spoke at length about what the organization is doing besides just looking to sign players. Because it's more than that. It's about Jamael Cox exploring opportunities in Europe, or Jones needing training while he sorts out his status, or, though unmentioned, Jesse Klug picking high school. It's a long statement in this sound bite world, but if it were summed up it could be simply said "Once and Always a Sounder."
I asked Henderson about how changing circumstances alter the Sounders approach to potential HGPs:
I think if Caleb leaves Akron we would look at it different. We know Deandre's in a good situation. He's in one of the higher level college programs in the country. We know he's getting daily training and the coaching is good.
I think we do look at the situations and circumstances. You know that Darwin's been out here and Jamael looked overseas. We want the best for all the guys that go through our Academy. Whether they make it on our team or make different life choices or go overseas. We want to assist them when they do. We want to make sure that they feel at least the support of the Sounders because they were part of the Academy.
That part is important. Following through with our commitment to them and making sure that they feel like they were part of something with the Academy. It's not just about whether they make the team or not and getting a 'thanks for coming.' That part is important.
I think monitoring the environment that these players are in and if there's a chance that a group of players has a chance to make our team we want to make sure that they are in an environment where they can grow and can make the decision to sign them as homegrown.
He also talked more about how they scout, very processy stuff about travel, budget comparisons and the amount of college TV networks. That's a lot of old ground and background data. He mentioned one last new item though. It is the addition of internal match analytics systems to the Sounders Academy. Seattle isn't the first team (New York Red Bulls probably were, Vancouver Whitecaps also do something similar), but it is an addition of greater professionalism.
We are also starting the same thing that the first team has where we start breaking down match analysis video. We are going to start doing that with the Academy players. It's going to be a great coaching tool with our Academy to go ahead and sit down with the player and break down his game, get all of his touches to another player. It's the same thing the first team does, so if a player does make it through they are used to the system.
It may be tomorrow, or next winter, or 2014 when the first HomeGrown Player signs with the Sounders. That doesn't mean that collection of players that are followed here are not Sounders. It's simple "Once and Always." They will be supported. As Darren Sawatzky says all the time; he isn't molding soccer players. He's molding good men and hopefully some of them play great soccer.