Without a true No. 9 until Will Bruin returns from injury, the Seattle Sounders finally made a move to bolster their forwards by signing Felix Chenkam from S2 on Friday. Although Chenkam will occupy the Sounders’ final open international roster spot, this will not impact their ability to make a summer signing, a team spokesperson said. The team can likely free up his roster spot by loaning him back to S2 for the full season or even placing him on the Disabled List. Chenkam’s contract also does not affect the salary cap since he will occupy a developmental slot on the roster, regardless of whether his contract is guaranteed.
In the short term, the 19-year-old Cameroon native will likely look to give the Sounders some added punch off the bench.
“He needs to take the opportunity with both hands and really grab hold of it,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters on Friday. “We’re down a couple guys ... there you go. There’s your opportunity. We love bringing guys up from S2. I think the Academy-S2-First Team gap is closing a little bit.”
Chenkam currently leads S2 with four goals in nine appearances after scoring five goals in 19 USL appearances last year. Still considered a bit raw offensively, Chenkam has drawn rave reviews for his strength and hold-up play. Here’s what Scott Burbidge said about him in last year’s recap:
Yet another member of the Rainbow FC envoy, Chenkam was far and away the best forward to play for S2 this year. He has elite strength, balance and tight control which allows him to fend off much bigger defenders when he holds up the ball. His hold-up play is actually pretty stunning and he rarely, if ever, loses the ball when he receives it with his back to goal. He has excellent passing vision which allows him to bring the rest of the attack quickly into play. On top of all that, he makes intelligent runs in the box and can finish well with both feet.
S2 head coach John Hutchinson echoed much of that in comments to the media, adding that the area where Chenkam needs to improve is the sort of thing you’d likely expect for a 19-year-old signed from the USL.
“He’s got a little bit to work on in terms of his runs and his defensive work and the structure for the first team, we’ve put a lot of work into him so far and he’s developed into a decent footballer,” he said. “I think he’s ready for a chance at MLS and now it’s up to him. I know when he enters the field I’ll be cheering him on.”