The task of restocking the roster has already begun for the Seattle Sounders, who announced a pair of signings on Thursday. The more high-profile of those signings is defender Waylon Francis, who the Sounders acquired from the Columbus Crew in exchange for $50,000 in Allocation Money. The Crew had declined the option on Francis’ contract that paid him a reported salary of $250,000 in 2017. The Sounders also announced the re-signing of backup goalkeeper Bryan Meredith.
“Waylon bolsters our already talented group of outside-backs, and his effectiveness in MLS over the past four seasons is well-known,” Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey said in a statement. “Adding an All-Star level player to our current roster with this type of experience is invaluable, especially with Waylon's familiarity with CONCACAF play in advance of our Champions League campaign in February.”
Although a couple years removed from his best MLS seasons, Francis is still just 27 years old and provides some needed competition for Nouhou at left back. Francis was among the league’s best attacking fullbacks from 2014 to 2015, when he accumulated 13 assists in 52 appearances and was named an All-Star in ‘15. Francis also has seven caps for the Costa Rica national team — though just one since 2015 — and was named to their 2014 World Cup squad. As a 25-year-old, Francis’ resume looked strikingly similar to how Joevin Jones’ does now.
Over the past two years, Francis has been limited to more spot starts as Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter has shown more of a preference for the likes of Harrison Afful and Hector Jimenez. Still, Francis has managed five assists in about 2,100 minutes (.21 per 90) over the past two seasons, basically on par with his career rate (.25 per 90).
At the very least, Francis offers some cover for Nouhou when he’s called in for international duty, and may even press the flashy 20-year-old for minutes while also giving the Sounders a veteran backup to Kelvin Leerdam. To get him, the Sounders only had to give up the equivalent of what they received for Tyler Miller in the Expansion Draft. It’s not a particularly flashy move, but it is one that strengthens the overall roster and almost certainly just the first of many.