Picking at 9 in the 2023 MLS Superdraft the Seattle Sounders don’t need to look for a star, or even a starter. The Ideal XI is fairly well known, even the top of the rotation guys are fairly obvious with the way the Depth Chart is right now.
The draft has a reputation for not being very useful, which is probably because the Sounders haven’t had a single-digit pick in many years and because for a time the MLS Academies hurt college. But from 2019-2022 there were several picks that show a resurgent strength in the draft.
In 2019 two players (Tajon Buchanan and Dayne St. Clair) selected between 7 and 11 went to the World Cup. All five of those players are still MLS talents.
In 2020 only one player selected in that 7-11 range made the World Cup (Alistair Johnson) and only one is still an MLS player. The other three were all in the USL Championship.
Was 2021 worse? Yes, only one MLS talent. The rest are in USL or MLS Next Pro.
Two UW Huskies are the best from the band in 2022. Sailor and Burks both seem solid so far.
A 50% hit rate, with three making the World Cup is an extraordinary opportunity. Yes, the biggest successes are all Canadian. No, scouting college hasn’t been easy for the past two-and-a-half years.
There is clearly opportunity for Chief Soccer Officer Craig Waibel to add either talent or Allocation Money.
The 38th pick recently has not been as strong, but that’s to be expected. It’s a range where backup keepers (Ben Lundt, Wallis Lapsley) or strength for lower division sides (Kyle Coffee, Joe Hafferty) can be found.
Over their history, the Sounders have a decent hit rate for players that can help the quest to return to the playoffs.
Picks near No. 9
2010 - David Estrada (UCLA) - Pick No. 11: David Estrada, he of St. Hat Tricks Day, had a 10-year professional career across MLS and the second and third tiers of American soccer. He had 39 goals and 19 assists in 260 professional appearances, with 101 of those appearances and 22 of his goals coming while a part of the Sounders organization.
2013 - Eriq Zavaleta (Indiana) - Pick No. 10: Eriq Zavaleta struggled to find the field while with the Sounders, going on loan a short loan first to the NASL’s San Antonio Scorpions, then a full-season loan with Chivas USA. He’s now got 10 MLS seasons under his belt, 199 professional appearances, an MLS Cup ring and 18 caps with El Salvador.
2014 - Damion Lowe (U of Hartford) - Pick No. 8: Damion Lowe never made a First Team appearance with the Sounders, although he did have a bench appearance in CCL play in 2015, but had a good run with Sounders 2 and a successful loan spell with Minnesota United in NASL. He’s done some globe-trotting in his career, but is back in MLS where he made 31 all-competition appearances (all starts) for Inter Miami, and he’s got 50 caps with the senior Jamaican national team.
Picks near No. 38
2013 - Dylan Remick (Brown) - Pick No. 35: Dylan Remick, a solid domestic left back with speed and defensive chops, had a good 6-year career in which he made 86 professional appearances. Remick would likely still be playing now, but he retired from soccer after missing the entire 2018 season due to a concussion he suffered in preseason.
2015 - Oniel Fisher (UNM) - Pick No. 40: Oniel Fisher is heading into his 9th season as a pro in search of a team, having been waived by Minnesota United following the end of the 2022 season. He’s made 138 professional appearances, 107 of them coming at the MLS level across four teams.
2016 - Zach Mathers (Duke) - Pick No. 35: Zach Mathers had a short and somewhat strange professional career. Drafted in 2016, he made a total of four Open Cup appearances with the First Team, had a dominant 2017 with S2 where he had 11 goals and 4 assists in 24 USL appearances, then made five appearances with Las Vegas Lights in 2018 and hasn’t played professionally since.
2021 - Joe Hafferty (OSU) - Pick No. 37: Joe Hafferty was selected in the 2021 draft by Inter Miami, then immediately traded to the Sounders before signing with Tacoma Defiance. Hafferty made 10 appearances with Tacoma Defiance in USLC in 2021, and 22 in MLS Next Pro and the MLS Next Pro Playoffs, but is now looking for a new team after his Defiance contract ended.
You may have grown tired of the draft, but you should expect the Sounders to find an asset, because they and their contemporaries have been.