Shortly after Garth Lagerwey was hired to be the head of the Seattle Sounders’ front office, he made a seemingly innocuous trade. The Sounders’ new GM agreed to send the MLS rights to a little-known Ghanian midfielder to New York City FC in exchange for a conditional draft pick.
As the 2015 season unfolded, though, it turned out that Kwadwo Poku was actually a pretty talented player. In limited minutes, Poku scored four goals and had seven assists for an otherwise bad team. In last year’s postseason analysis, we suggested the trade had the potential to become “Doyle Alexander-for-John Smoltz” bad.
But under a new coach, Poku struggled to find minutes in 2016 and was eventually sold to the NASL’s Miami FC where he ended up with six goals and two assists in about 1,600 minutes.
Those aren’t bad numbers and Poku is still just 24,, but it now appears unlikely that the Sounders’ decision to trade him will be likened to one in which a team bought a late-season rental for the price of a future Hall of Famer.
Further helping the way history will look at that trade is that the conditional draft pick has turned out to be a first-rounder, giving the Sounders the No. 16 pick in the upcoming MLS SuperDraft. They’ll also have their natural pick at No. 22.
Historically, great players don’t come from that spot in the draft. But the Sounders were able to trade last year’s No. 16 pick for Joevin Jones and a year earlier that’s where they picked Cristian Roldan. In the last two years alone, the Sounders have also selected Oniel Fisher, Tyler Miller and Tony Alfaro with lower picks than that, proving decent talent can be found.
Lagerwey has been far from perfect on his personnel decisions, but this one may not have been quite as horrible of a whiff as it first appeared.