TUKWILA, Wash. — The Seattle Sounders returned to training on Thursday at Starfire, and their latest prized acquisition wasted no time getting to know his teammates.
Brazilian attacker Léo Chú, acquired by the Sounders from Grêmio in a transfer deadline day deal, was a full participant in the training session, having arrived in Seattle late last week. Chú was formally introduced to the Sounders faithful Sunday prior to the match against the Portland Timbers.
It’s safe to say the occasion made a lasting impression.
Chú (21), made 38 professional appearances for Grêmio and on loan for Ceará Sporting Club between 2019 and 2021, recording five goals across all competitions. But he said that observing the match in front of 45,000 spectators was the largest in-person crowd he’s ever seen.
“It was actually an indescribable feeling,” Chú said. “I ascended to the pros just 1 1⁄2 years [ago] and because of Covid I had not yet experienced a full stadium. So this was something that will be in my memories for life.”
Chú said the process of joining the team came together very quickly — approximately two days from learning about the Sounders' interest to signing a deal. Chú said he talked with fellow Brazilian João Paul as part of his deliberations.
“João is a very good friend, he helped me in the decision [to join the Sounders],” Chú said. “Right after I received the proposal, we talked and he had great things to say about the city and the club. That motivated me a lot.”
Head coach Brian Schmetzer said the decision by Chú to sign with the Sounders is a testament to the fans and the club.
“There are guys that want to come play for the club, because of the culture in the locker room,” Schmetzer said. “I would hope that Leo’s expectations are met, by our club by our culture by our city and how we do things.”
Chú said his immediate focus is to re-establish his game rhythm, having been off for approximately a month while the transfer and visa issues resolved themselves. His fitness did not appear to be a problem and he followed the training protocol provided by the Sounders in the meantime.
“He had an individual program through our fitness guys while he was waiting for the visa,” Schmetzer said. “We’ll do some testing over the next couple of days and see exactly where he’s at.”
Schmetzer said he was pleased with what he saw from Chú in his days with the team, on and off the field.
“He seems to be incorporating very well, he was spending some time with Fredy [Montero] this morning, which is great,” Schmetzer said. “Obviously with JP it was the same. I can’t think of better role models for him to incorporate into our group. On the field he was good. It’s his first day, he’s excited to be out there so his energy level is good.”
Chú is fully eligible to participate in the Sounders next match against Minnesota United, and Schmetzer said he has no qualms about getting him on the field in that match.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Schmetzer asked. “If he’s good enough, if he can compete, if he’s fit enough. We’ve got a condensed schedule coming up. He needs to get up to speed fast.”
Schmetzer said the team will work on how to best utilize Chú’s talents, given the tactical preferences of the Sounders this year. The Sounders have not played with true “wingers” this year, utilizing wing backs to provide width. Chú did say that he can play in the middle as well as outside.
“Where’s he going to play, that’s probably the bigger question,” Schmetzer said. “Let’s see how we incorporate him tactically. That’s probably the biggest hurdle we have to overcome.”
Whatever Schmetzer decides, Chú said he is ready to help his new team.
“Coach has already talked to me, I’m here to add,” Chú said. “I can play on the sides, I can play more in the center. Wherever the professor wants to place me I’m here to help, and I’ll be ready to go.”