Believe it or not, the Seattle Sounders will officially open training camp one week from now. Shockingly little has changed in the last couple months, and certainly since it become reasonably clear who was expected to come back and who wasn’t. The only official addition to the roster in that time is backup goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland, who effectively took Bryan Meredith’s spot on the roster.
The next closest thing to an official signing is our report that Harry Shipp has agreed to return after his contract expired. That would leave the Sounders with 20 players under contract heading into training camp. That leaves anywhere from seven to 12 open roster spots, including one that could be used on a Designated Player.
In other words, it’s essentially the exact same situation Garth Lagerwey talked about with me about a month ago when he admitted there was a distinct possibility that the Sounders could open camp with the roster as it looked then.
I would imagine that even the most patient Sounders fans and the most faithful club staff are now starting to feel at least a bit uncomfortable with how things stand. As has been noted repeatedly, this is a roster that has just one natural centerback and only three players whose primary position is on defense. I can’t blame anyone who’s feeling frustrated.
If there’s one thing that should bolster our hopes, it’s that this is very much a pattern for Lagerwey, and he’s managed to put together very competitive rosters every year. Going back to his first offseason with the Sounders in 2015, the only foreign signing Lagerwey has made before the start of training camp is Andres Correa, who never even made a first-team appearance. The most notable acquisitions of any sort Lagerwey has made between MLS Cup and the start of training camp are the trades for Shipp and Will Bruin in December 2016.
Even after training camp starts, Lagerwey doesn’t wade too deeply into the foreign player market during the winter window. The only other foreign signings he’s made during his four previous winter windows are Gustav Svensson (Jan. 30, 2017), Magnus Wolff Eikrem (Jan. 30, 2018), Kim Kee-hee (Feb. 27, 2018), Joevin Jones (May 7, 2019) and Xavier Arreaga (May 7, 2019).
All of which is to say that while the Sounders almost HAVE to make a couple signings between now and Feb. 20, when they face Olimpia in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 matchup, that they’ve not yet made many moves shouldn’t be particularly surprising given Lagerwey’s track record.
Is it the right move? Only time will tell.