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Mentorship from UW coaches helping Henry Wingo adapt to the pro game

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Listed as a midfielder/defender by MLS, rookie Wingo has been all attack for the Sounders

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Last year, Henry Wingo was usually a defensive or possession oriented midfielder for the University of Washington. With the Seattle Sounders in 2017 he’s been a late attacking sub instructed with charging towards goal and creating chances for others. In his 46 minutes thus far, he has three key passes—all of them considered “short” by WhoScored.

Wingo is enjoying the shift back to the attacking role he held with the Academy.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster, because when I was in the Academy that was more my focus, I played on the wing and was purely an attacking player. Then things changed due to the personnel we thought we needed at Washington, so I transitioned to a defensive role and now I’m an attacking guy,” he told Sounder at Heart on Monday. “I feel like being an attacking player, trying to create chances and just go at guys is more my best strength. It was good to learn a new position and develop different parts of my game while I was in college, but I’m perfectly comfortable playing a more attacking role and trying to create chances for my teammates.”

Those chances aren’t assists yet, but they are close. American Soccer Analysis’ version of expected Assists puts him at 0.58 xA. His near-weekly conversations with his coaches at the UW (who have nearly 20 pro years between them) focus on what he needs to improve on the field.

“They like that I have pace and I’m dynamic and good going one-v-one, but obviously it’s a faster game. It’s a smarter game at this level so i think things I need to work on are being cleaner with my touches all the time,” Wingo said, “having a little bit of composure on the ball versus knowing when to go and when to put your foot on it and slow it down. Just moving it quicker when I have the chance.”

The Husky coaches are also his primary resource for how to adapt from being a college kid to pro soccer player.

“They all had professional careers and have produced countless professional players, so they’ve been around the game a lot. They know how these things work and what the lifestyle’s like and the demands of the game,” Henry smiles while talking about his college coaches. He smiles a lot. “They always have good bits and pieces for me - super helpful.”

When Wingo signed an HGP deal he wasn’t coming off the flashy college career of Seyi Adekoya, nor was he a teen phenom like Victor Mansaray. He had a great preseason, but he’s carrying that with him into games that matter, and now Henry is competing for playing time with seasoned pro Alvaro Fernandez. Wingo is the more attacking of the options at Brian Schmetzer’s disposal. Compared to a lot of other rookies, he’s earning sub minutes with the big club in his first season, rather than developing down in USL.

“He’s finding some minutes and he’s doing OK here in training. He’s just got to make that next jump,” head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “I’ve got confidence that he will.”