In desperate need of forward reinforcements, the Seattle Sounders officially added Justin Dhillon to the First Team roster ahead of Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Dhillon joined the Sounders organization earlier this year when he signed with the Tacoma Defiance shortly after the start of their season and has emerged as their top offensive threat, scoring six goals in 14 matches. All six of those goals have come in Dhillon’s past seven matches.
“Justin adds to our growing list of players who have been signed directly to our USL club and made the jump to MLS,” Sounders General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a team statement. “Justin is a player who has proven himself at the USL level, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do with the First Team.”
As a domestic player already signed to their USL affiliate, Dhillon was eligible to join the roster immediately rather than having to wait until the transfer window opens on July 9. Dhillon is actually the fifth player on the Sounders roster who started out playing for their USL affiliate, joining Jordy Delem, Nouhou, Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez.
All indications are that Dhillon will get his debut on Saturday and is solid bet to start. With Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidiaz on international duty and Will Bruin out for the year, Ocampo-Chavez is the only other available forward. As high as the organization is on Ocampo-Chavez, the 17-year-old still only has made just nine career USL appearances and only handful of training sessions with the First Team since being signed in early May as he’s been repeatedly called into various youth national teams. Dhillon hasn’t exactly been a fixture with the First Team either, but at 23 years old he does have considerably more professional experience. Dhillon also has the sort of body — he’s 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds — that makes it a bit easier for the Sounders to give him a simplified role.
“He’ll need to learn the system a little bit and I’ll make his task very specific,” Schmetzer said when asked about Dhillon on Thursday. “I’ll see what I can get out of him.”
Dhillon came to the Sounders after spending most of his previous high-level soccer career in the LA Galaxy organization, first as part of their academy and then as a member of LAGII for the past two seasons. He scored 72 goals over three years in their academy before playing collegiately at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four years and then joining the Galaxy’s USL team. In his first year, he led them with six goals in about 1,200 minutes. Much of Dhillon’s 2018 was missed due to injury, but he still scored three goals in a little less than 700 minutes.