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Highly experienced Dutch right back joins Sounders

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Kelvin Leerdam is the first of what is expected to be several summer signings.

Vitesse v Southampton - UEFA Europa League: Third Qualifying Round 2nd Leg Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

In the first of what is expected to be several summer signings, the Seattle Sounders will formally unveil right back Kelvin Leerdam at Saturday’s training session. The Seattle Times was first to report the signing. The Sounders are using Targeted Allocation Money to make the signing and he could make his debut as soon as July 19, when the team returns from the Gold Cup break and the summer transfer window will be open.

The just-turned-27-year-old Dutchman is a nine-year veteran of the Eredivisie after making his debut as an 18-year-old with Feyenoord. More recently he’s been playing with Vitesse, who may be best known as Chelsea’s de-facto farm club but actually finished fifth in the table last year and have qualified for Europa League three of the past four years. Vitesse also won the KNVB Cup this year, the Netherlands’ equivalent to the U.S. Open Cup, a game Leerdam started. He was out of contract at the end of last season.

During his nine seasons in Holland, Leerdam has also accumulated more than 900 minutes in European competitions. Among that experience is two starts in Champions League play when he was with Feynoord.

Leerdam is known as more of an attack-minded full back, scoring a career-high eight goals in the 2013-14 season. In his Eredivisie career, he scored 16 goals and had 18 assists. Last year, he had five assists to go along with one goal and led Vitesse defenders with 18 key passes in his 28 league appearances. His best moments have mostly been at right back, but he has seen time across the backline and as a defensive midfielder.

While this appears to give the Sounders what amounts to a right-sided version of Joevin Jones, it likely means they’ve lost patience with Brad Evans’ ability to stay healthy enough as to be relied upon. Although the Sounders have yet to allow a goal in Evans’ 303 minutes this year, injuries have limited him to just seven appearances, four starts and only allowed him to play as many as 70 minutes once.

Evans will likely return to more of a utility role, filling in along the backline and in the midfield. What it means for his longterm future with the club is less clear.

This is actually the third time Evans’ has been displaced by a summer signing. In 2012, it was Christian Tiffert taking over his spot in the central midfield and in 2015 Roman Torres bumped him from his starting center back position.

Those considerations aside, this move seems to stabilize the defense while also making it more dynamic, potentially for years to come.

Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey has previously said the team could potentially add a defender and a couple attackers during the summer window. It would stand to reason that anymore signings would be farther up the pitch. This does somewhat limit their options, though, as Leerdam will take up one of the Sounders’ two remaining international roster spots.