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New sporting director could be announced this week, Sounders GM says

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Along with naming new talent evaluator, Garth Lagerwey suggests Raul Ruidíaz could also finally join Sounders preseason.

MLS: MLS Cup Champions-Seattle Sounders Parade Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This is shaping up to be a busy week for the Seattle Sounders, according to GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. In addition to playing the Portland Timbers on Tuesday in their only scheduled match against a MLS opponent during the preseason, the Sounders are also hoping to welcome back Raúl Ruidíaz and High Performance Director Adam Owen this week. Both Ruidíaz and Owen have delayed in returning to the country while dealing with visa issues.

As if those three things weren’t enough, Lagerwey also said an announcement of Chris Henderson’s replacement as new sporting director could be made this week.

“We had three pillars that we looked at,” Lagerwey said during the final night of YachtCon: Back to School. “We wanted someone who could replace what Chris was really, really good at — picking players, finding players from all over the world and using them to build out not just the Sounders but Defiance. Secondly, we wanted someone with youth development experience, a youth development background. We feel like we’re in the midst of the final push on that front — we signed some kids but haven’t really gotten them through to the first team yet. We want someone [who] can advise us, can help us get over that last hurdle. Then third, we wanted someone who was familiar, someone who had some cultural ties either to the coaching staff or Seattle, just known to everyone.

“We didn’t want someone to come in and reinvent the wheel. We wanted someone who we thought could come in and adapt well to a lot of what we’re doing, hopefully bring some outside ideas. It’s always good to get a fresh set of eyes on your process and your program. I think we’re going to have an announcement on that this week.”

Some of the people who come to mind as potential candidates include current head of scouting Sean Henderson, former Real Salt Lake GM Craig Waibel and current RSL technical director Kurt Schmid.

Lagerwey has previously suggested that the Sounders’ relatively quiet offseason was due in part to wanting to give the new sporting director input on how the team uses its limited salary-cap space.

By waiting, the Sounders will also have a better idea of where their roster could most use help. While the departure of Joevin Jones on the right wing and the loss of Jordan Morris to injury on the left wing are obvious areas of need, the new formation could render those holes less important, he said.

“The obvious place to look based on how we were set up last year and the year before that, particularly when we decided to move on from Joevin, was to look at right winger candidates,” he said. “Then Jordan got hurt, so do you want to go out and sign two wingers? Jordan’s going to come back in a year, so that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Then if you sign one winger, you’re still one short with Jordan out this year.

“I think it depends on how the coaching staff is going to play. We have to see how players do in the new system and the new roles. It’s a work in progress.”