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Aaron Long and the ones that got away

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The ones that got away... or not

Photos: Sounders 2 vs. Whitecaps 2
Aaron Long, well before he won Defender of the Year
Mike Russell Foto for Sounder at Heart

Over the past ten years not every Seattle Sounders signing or near-signing has worked out. Some came in with great hype but were released before they had the opportunity to demonstrate anything. Other players were never hyped, but in the years since have became greats (hey there Aaron Long, winner of the Chad Marshall of the Year Award and United States Men’s National Team regular).

These are the ones who got away, and the Sounders didn’t get much.

Forwards

The Sounders probably need a forward. Right now they have three MLS average or much better forwards on the roster, but that leaves them a forward short of ideal if they continue in the 4-2-3-1, and in even more injury danger if they go to a 2-forward set. We’re only including players who played professionally in the last year, so Prince Tagoe doesn’t make the list (he lasted played in 2015).

Paolo Hurtado

Garth Lagerwey got quite close to signing Hurtado, but was eventually outbid by a club in Turkey. Hurtado would have needed to be a DP in 2018, which was unfeasible because Dempsey was still a DP when the transfer window closed. In Turkey, Hurtado has done — nothing of note. With Konyaspor he has 1 goal in 219 minutes from 1 start and 5 sub appearances. He did start his only cup appearance, and scored.

Verdict: Oh well.

Sean Okoli

Okoli left the Sounders to go to New England Revolution, who ignored him. Then in 2016 he won the USL MVP with FC Cincinnati, which earned him another MLS deal with NYCFC, who also decided to ignore him. He’s now with Jerv in the Norwegian First Division (which is soccer speak for second division), where he has 1 goal in 858 minutes as a regular starter.

Verdict: Oh well.

Seyi Adekoya

In the height of Seattle’s injury crisis they desperately needed a forward, and the HGP they had on the roster who could fill that need wasn’t around. He’s now with Vendsyssel in the Danish SuperLiga. Seyi has scored once in his 5 starts and 6 sub appearances.

Verdict: Still don’t understand.

Victor Mansaray

At the time he was the youngest HGP signing in Sounders history. The Fife/Freetown, Sierra Leone product was at Cinci after Okoli, then in Finland, and spent last year with the Charleston Battery. At Charleston he started 7 matches, played 702 minutes and scored 2 goals. Victor is just 21 and has 4 professional seasons under his belt.

Verdict: Still young enough that he could be something.

Honorable mention: Mike Fucito. He’s not playing anymore, but I don’t care.

Attacking Midfielders

Seattle’s deepest position group, but wouldn’t it be better with one of these guys?*

Christian Sivebæk

Back in 2012 when the Seattle Sounders thought they could convert an attacking midfielder to right back they discovered it takes a certain personality to put in that work. The 24-year-old-at-the-time played just 88 minutes in the Rave Green. He’s played in Denmark’s second division since, and has done an admirable job. This year he has 4 goals in 17 starts as a winger. He’s now 30.

Verdict: Yes, actually that would be useful.

Mario Martínez

No one danced with a corner flag as well as Martínez. Mario is now 29 and is once again playing for Real Espana in Honduras, where he seems to spend 50% of his career without being there more than two years in a row. Last season he scored... [double-checks notes] TEN GOALS. Maybe he’s only comfortable in Honduras, because his good seasons there are followed by mediocre ones elsewhere (Egypt, Ecuador, USA).

Verdict: Seattle isn’t in Honduras.

Philip Lund

Lund had a nondescript time with Seattle back in 2013. He went on to play in Oklahoma City and the Faroe Islands, but he so fell in love with Seattle that he is now with the Tacoma Stars, where he won Rookie of the Year in 2017-18.

Verdict: It worked out well for Lund.

Thomas Jaguaribe

A wise man** once said that Brazilian attacking players are the Notre Dame quarterbacks of soccer. The 25-year-old is on his fifth team since leaving the Sounders, and his first one outside of Brazil. Now in Greece, he continues to be a rotational player who isn’t a scoring or assisting threat, and still doesn’t play defense. He did have a 66-minute hat trick in a cup match.

Verdict: The right call for all.

Poku

Seattle had the discovery rights to the NASL standout and swapped those for allocation money so New York City FC could sign the midfielder. He had a decent year-and-a-half with NYCFC but then went to Miami FC of the NASL, who sold him to Anzhi in Russia for some ungodly amount. Poku was with the Tampa Bay Rowdies last year, still flashing all his dribbling skills, but with little production to show for it.

Verdict: Seattle and Miami came out ahead on the deals.

Pablo Rossi

No S2 player has ever struck a dead ball as effectively as Rossi. He may even have been better than any First Team player at free kicks. He was in the realm of Michel and Beckham, but even more one-dimensional. Seattle moved on from him quickly. He’s been without a club for two of the three seasons since he left.

Verdict: He’s the type of guy who could nail a penalty when put in as the 4th sub late in extra time. ***

*No. It wouldn’t. Probably.
** It was me
*** Don’t be a jerk Dave, it’s too soon.

Defensive Midfielders

The hollowest group on the Sounders, especially if they lose Osvaldo Alonso without a replacement. Even S2-be-named is short at the position.

Jordan Schweitzer

The former Homegrown Player played for Colorado Springs Switchbacks last year, starting 33 games. Bigger than his time with Orlando B and the Switchbacks is that his USL performances were strong enough for him to get a call to the Canada Men’s National Team. He’s clearly a USL level player, and maybe just a bit more. He’s also just 24.

Verdict: Bring the 425 back to the 253.

Fullbacks

Andrés Correa

The Colombian left back had all the physical tools to play in MLS, but only got a chance with S2. Now with La Equidad and just 24, Correa started 40 league games in 2017. This year he isn’t collecting the same minutes with current coach Luis Suárez (not that one).

Verdict: Another chance might be appropriate.

Centerbacks

Roberto Chen

Twice this Panama National Team player was nearly a Sounder. The first time he instead signed with Malaga in La Liga, and the other time it seems there may have been health concerns. Since his second visit to Seattle, Chen has played for five teams in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica. Most recently he is with Árabe Unido, where the 24-year-old has 14 starts this season. He’s been part of the Panama picture since 2011.

Verdict: A third look is warranted.

Aaron Long

You don’t need this recap. You know who he is, because he was the Chad Marshall of the Year in 2018.

Verdict: Dammit.

Eriq Zavaleta

He played in the 2016 MLS Cup, which Seattle eventually took, and has been one of the primary starting defenders for Toronto FC for three years. Playing for his uncle, Eriq found the position and formation that suited him best, something that didn’t happen in Seattle.

Verdict: The Eriq who stayed with Seattle wouldn’t be the one who went to Toronto.

Damion Lowe

The 2014 draft pick spent a couple seasons with the Sounders, but his playing time was with S2. Since leaving the organization he played with Minnesota and Tampa of the NASL. Over the last two seasons Lowe became a starter for IK Start as they returned to Norway’s top division. During his pro journey Damion has become a regular for Jamaica, including starting in their Gold Cup Final loss in 2017.

Verdict: If here, he would still be the 4th CB.

Jimmy Ockford

Twice the Seattle Sounders loaned Ock back to his home region, where he played for the New York Cosmos. In 2016 he picked up an NASL title and later an MLS Cup. In 2017 he played for Reno 1868 and his performance there earned him another MLS contract with the San Jose Earthquakes. This season he drifted between Reno and San Jose, finishing the season as a frequent MLS starter.

Verdict: If here he would still be the 4th CB, and probably the better of those options.

Keepers

With Stefan Frei clearly the starter for the foreseeable future, the need at goalkeeper is about depth, especially after losing Tyler Miller to LAFC where he went on to be their starter. In the wings is one Trey Muse, who the Sounders are chasing for an HGP deal, but last year Calle Brown was the starter for S2-to-be-named.

Tyler Miller

Yeah, that’s covered. He had a strong year.

Verdict: Would be very nice to have, but dude deserved to start.

Ryan Herman

The Sounders Academy product wasn’t signed, and instead got drafted by FC Dallas. While there he made the bench in 8 competitive matches. Herman found regular time as a backup with Miami in the NASL and then the NPSL. In 2018 he earned a start and a sub appearance while taking the NPSL title.

Verdict: It sucks to lose an Academy product, but he’s at the right level.

Paul Christensen

Passed up for an HGP deal, Christensen was drafted by Atlanta United. He earned one sub appearance and twice made the bench. Paul started 10 matches for Atlanta’s USL side, starting more games for them than any other player in their organization. His 2.10 goals against average and one clean sheet as a 22-year-old on a team that — like S2 — plays a ton of kids was adequate.

Verdict: Would have been better than Brown.

Final verdict: Seattle would be improved if Christensen, Miller, Ockford, Zavaleta, Long, Sivebæk or Fucito were on the roster. But most of the time the guys they missed out on haven't done much since leaving.