TUKWILA, Wash. — No one was quite ready to announce anything official, but all signs point to the Seattle Sounders making some big signings on the final day of the primary transfer window. The Athletic has confirmed that Joevin Jones will be rejoining the Sounders after being released from 2. Bundesliga side Darmstadt 96, and Ecuadorian center back Xavier Arreaga is expected to be unveiled on Thursday.
While neither player addresses anything like an immediate need, both add significant depth to a team that has already had issues with injuries and will be further tested during the summer’s various international tournaments.
“We are always are looking to upgrade the team,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said following Tuesday’s training session. “That’s part of pro sports. When you talk about team chemistry, guys are going to be upset when someone takes their spot.
“How do I manage those situations? With as much honesty as I can and tell them there’s always competition. The guys that buy into the entire team concept that we try to build, where it’s team first, it’s their team. ... The guys that get it, that stay around, that do their jobs and fight for their positions, those are guys coaches want to have around.”
Assuming there are no outgoing players — and it should be said no one other than the injured Gustav Svensson was missing from the training session — both players would create some hard choices for Schmetzer, who said he’s already lost sleep over trying to find minutes for players like Harry Shipp, Will Bruin, Handwalla Bwana and Nouhou.
Jones was arguably the best attacking left back in MLS history when he left following the 2017 season. Since then, Brad Smith has emerged as a capable attacking option in his own right and Nouhou has continued to hone his game. Jones will be coming off a full season in Germany, though, and could be seen more as depth in the attacking band.
“We know Joevin well,” Schmetzer said. “If he comes back, it would be icing on the cake because we have a very talented team. But we’re always happy to have talented players come back to our squad.”
From the outside, the center back situation seems even more settled. In Chad Marshall, Kim Kee-hee and Román Torres the Sounders have three center backs who would start for most MLS teams. Arreaga, though, offers something none of those players have: youth. The 24-year-old has also already established himself as one of the best defenders in Ecuador.
Marshall, in particular, has been battling a knee injury all year and may not ever get to the point where he’s reliably available every week. Even if he is able to stay mostly healthy, Schmetzer noted that the 34-year-old may not choose to play beyond this year.
“Chad has made it known that he’s probably not going to continue,” Schmetzer said. “We’re always looking for the future. Centerback is a very important position. We need to make sure that the organization continues to look for quality players that fit what we want to do, and our culture, all of those little things. If we can find the right guy, we’ll make signings.”