I don’t imagine it will be heavily covered many places outside of Sounder at Heart, but the Seattle Sounders organization made a potentially significant signing on Monday when they completed Georgi Minoungou’s transfer to the Tacoma Defiance.
Minoungou only had two goals and four assists spread out over 788 MLS Next Pro minutes with the Defiance in 2022, but he was one of the most intriguing prospects on the team. It’s not just that the 20-year-old Ivorian has good size and speed, while also being very good with the ball at his feet, it’s that he’s proven himself very willing to be coached and to learn. Defiance coaches have been impressed with how quickly he’s picked up both the language and the messaging. One specifically called out the player’s “growth mindset.”
While I haven’t been able to get an exact figure on what the Sounders paid for his transfer, I’ve been told it’s likely in the $250,000-$500,000 range. That’s not an exorbitant amount of money by MLS standards, but it might be a record for a lower-league American record. At the very least, it’s a significant investment by the Sounders on a player who doesn’t have an immediate role to play in the first team.
More broadly, I think it’s an interesting path that we could see used more often. Over the last four years at least, the Defiance have been used primarily as a way of transitioning players from the Academy to the first team. During that time, the Sounders have signed a handful of non-Academy players directly from the Defiance, but Abdoulaye Cissoko is the only one to have played a significant role with the first team. (I suppose Jackson Ragen also technically qualifies, but since he played extensively for the Sounders Academy I feel like he’s a special case.) The only other player to came through the Defiance for whom the Sounders paid a transfer fee was Nouhou, and that was only after they’d decided to sign him to the first team.
Adding to the intrigue around Minoungou is that he plays a position of potential need for the Sounders. Right now, Cristian Roldan appears to be the locked in starter at right mid. Behind him, though, the competition seems pretty wide open. I suspect Dylan Teves probably has the inside track on that spot, but considering he only got into six MLS games next season he’s hardly a lock. That Minoungou is currently in Spain with the Sounders seems to be another indication of how highly the team thinks of his potential.
One note I should add about this transaction is that contrary to how it might seem, I’m told this is not a way to effectively keep the transfer fee from hitting the MLS salary cap. If the Sounders ever sign Minoungou to a first-team deal, his transfer fee will count just like any other player. In his case, the Sounders can likely designate him as a “Special Discovery Player” which would allow them to amortize a transfer fee of up to $500,000 over the life of his contract.
Everything else you need to know
- The Sounders recently signed one of the biggest sponsorship deals in MLS history, a deal with Providence that will pay out close to $100M over the 10-year life of the agreement. But fans are pretty upset. I tried to explain the controversy as best I could here.
- The new Sounders kit will likely be a tribute to Bruce Lee.
- The Sounders are currently in Marbella, Spain where they’ll play Austria’s Wolfsberger and Sweden’s Hammarby on Saturday before heading to Morocco on Feb. 2. I’m told Fox Sports has the rights to broadcast the Club World Cup games, but that they’ve still not decided which channel they’ll air on.
- Just before leaving town the Sounders announced a trio of longterm extensions. Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan both signed new five-year contracts, while Danny Leyva signed a four-year deal.
- You may have heard that Vox Media had a round of layoffs that decimated their MLS coverage. Sounder at Heart survived the cut, but this site is part of our effort to protect against future layoffs. Although we aren’t currently selling subscriptions, you can pledge your support in the event we do when you subscribe.