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Sounders praise the character of their first two 2019 draft picks

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Tucker Bone and Joel Rydstrand both expressed excitement after being drafted by Seattle

MLS: SuperDraft photo of Tucker Bone in his Air Force Academy uniform. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The first day of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft is in the books and the Seattle Sounders have two new players on the preseason roster to show for it. Joel Rydstrand will be coming to training camp and Tucker Bone is set to join the team some time in May after he completes more requirements with the Air Force Academy.

Bone, the club’s first round pick, said the moment of hearing his name called was surreal.

“It’s incredible,” Bone said. “You want to make sure you’re watching those steps for sure because you don’t want to miss them getting onstage. The overall feeling is if there was Christmas once in your life and you’re walking out to the Christmas tree and you see all the presents. It’s an incredible feeling just to be able to live out the dream. Growing up, even in my time at the academy, playing there, it’s a dream. It seems sort of unattainable until you walk up on that stage and you hear your name and you start giving that speech, looking out at the huge crowd. It’s incredible.

“I’m coming home. I was born in Tacoma, Washington so I’m excited about that to get to know the city a lot more considering I grew up in Sacramento. Growing up and playing club soccer, getting recruited to the Academy, that whole experience. There’s a lot of hype around the developmental academies these days and there’s just as much room for club players, young talented guys that can go to the college level and develop into professional athletes.”

Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson said that Bone would be a good character fit for the Rave Green.

“I think Tucker will fit in well,” Henderson said. “He‘s a good guy, a good pro. He’s a hard worker. He puts in the work. Look at old players we’ve had in the past, Roger Levesque is one, the work rate he brought to the team. He fits a lot of what we see in a Sounders player.

“The values and the things they’re taught at the [Air Force] Academy bring that as well. They train at altitude, it’s higher than Denver. It’s a hard place to play. All that hard work I think shows in his fitness level.”

Swedish midfielder Joel Rydstrand was thrilled to be chosen by Seattle.

“It was a great sense of happiness,” Rydstrand said, grinning. “I was really hoping for the Sounders and I’m so happy that it was Sounders that picked me. Obviously, we’ve had four Swedes there before with (Freddy) Ljungberg, (Erik) Friberg, (Adam) Johansson and now (Gustav) Svensson who’s a pretty big name back home. I would like to continue that tradition at the Sounders.

“I’ve seen many Seattle games. The fans are the number one thing that when you think about Seattle as a football club, it really excites you. When you see them in the stadium, even though it’s a football stadium they do a really good job of filling it and making the environment amazing and one of the best in the US, I would say.”

Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey also felt that Rydstrand’s personality would mesh easily.

“He’s a smart-aleck, first of all,” Lagerwey said. “His interview was something. He’s got a Swedish sense of humor. We’ll be sure to get (he and Gustav Svensson) together for team meetings from the get-go. We had it with Erik Friberg as well. To state the obvious, we’ve had really good success with that sort of personality in the locker room. What matters more than anything is whether he’s a good soccer player. We’ll figure it out and we’ll go from there.”

Lagerwey characterized both picks as players who will have an opportunity to try and fight for a spot on a roster that is already relatively full of senior roster players. It’s likely that if they stick around, that it could with the USL squad. That also appears to be the plan for Trey Muse, who Lagerwey suggested had already signed a Homegrown Player contract.

“Picking at 20 in a flat draft where we didn’t feel there was that much exceptional talent — we brought back 22 guys this year, we’ve got a lot of money tied up in the cap already — we didn’t feel we were in a position to move up in this draft,” Lagerwey said. “With Tucker, we really wanted to get somebody with good character and work ethic. I think his resume speaks for itself in that regard.

“Throw in that he was born in Tacoma and has a connection to some of the military presence in Seattle, I think it’s a really good story and he’s an awesome kid. I think we can’t possibly lose by inviting a kid like that into our club, into our culture and giving him a chance. It may work, it may not. As I said, we have I think 11 kids signed now from the Academy to S2, if you throw in these two draft picks and potentially a third-round guy coming in, you put those 14 guys out there and let them sort it out. We’ll see who’s worth it and who wants it the most.”

Seattle holds one final draft pick in the third round, the 68th overall, after trading their fourth-round pick to Montreal in August of 2017 in exchange for Calum Mallace. The final two rounds of the draft will take place Monday via conference-call.