Henry Wingo is currently on trial with Norwegian first-division team Molde FK, the Seattle Sounders confirmed on Friday. Reports of Wingo’s trial had first surfaced earlier in the week, but this was the first time head coach Brian Schmetzer had acknowledged them.
“With where he was on the depth chart, I felt it was a good opportunity for him,” Schmetzer said. “If something happens and he breaks through, and we still retain his rights, I think that’s a good thing for both the player and the club.”
Despite some encouraging recent play, Wingo found himself in an awkward position within the Sounders. The plan at the start of the year had been to transition him to being a full-time right back, but he was currently behind both Kelvin Leerdam and Saad Abdul-Salaam with no real prospects of leapfrogging either. Wingo had started to see some minutes at right midfield, including starts for the First Team in the U.S. Open Cup and in a win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 29.
With players now returning from international duty, though, minutes were going to be increasingly hard to come by. Wingo could have potentially gone down to the Tacoma Defiance where he’s played about 500 minutes this year, but he’d likely find himself competing with even younger prospects.
This trial at Molde, who currently leads the Eliteserien, offers Wingo a different kind of challenge on a team that sees some promise in him.
“He looks quite good, so this isn’t really a trial,” Molde coach Erling Moe was quoted as saying. “We’ll see what happens.”
Possibly helping Wingo settle in is that his brother, Teddy, actually played in Norway several years ago with Stryn Fotball Klubb. Former Sounders teammate Magnus Wolff Eikrem is also playing there, having a standout season with seven goals and seven assists in 15 appearances.
Situations like this may also start to become more common as the quality of MLS improves at both the first team and academy levels. If the Sounders and similar academies continue to produce talented players who are expected to compete for minutes with seasoned internationals, they’ll likely be looking for places to play that are possibly at an even higher level than the USL Championship. Places like Norway could prove to be the perfect spot for a relatively young player like Wingo.