UPDATE: Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer confirmed that Handwalla Bwana’s trade to Nashville SC was in the final stages of being completed. Schmetzer said the trade was made at the behest of Bwana, who had apparently grown frustrated with his lack of playing time. The Sounders will apparently be getting back a left-footed, attacking player. The most obvious candidate appears to be Daniel Rios, a left-footed forward who scored 20 goals in each of the past two USL Championship seasons. (Actually, it looks like it’s Jimmy Medranda, who has primarily played left back throughout his MLS career.)
Handwalla Bwana has long been a player who was poised to break out. Unfortunately, if that ever comes it will likely be with a different team.
The Washington Post’s Steven Goff — someone who is about as well sourced on breaking news as anyone in the American soccer world — reported on Saturday that Bwana has been traded to Nashville SC.
Getting word Seattle Sounders preparing to trade homegrown attacker Handwalla Bwana, 21, to Nashville, which will extend his contract. Awaiting details. U.S. citizen since Aug, in mix for U23/Olympic squad. 3rd-year pro: 32 league matches, 14 starts, 4 goals, 3 assists. #mls— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) October 18, 2020
Goff did not say what the Sounders would be getting in return, but it’s unlikely to be anything that would seriously impact this season. Nashville currently sits 21st in the Allocation Order and doesn’t have any players who would offer much of an upgrade to what the Sounders have. Most likely, Nashville will send along some sort of draft pick or potentially some allocation money.
At various points during his three seasons in MLS, Bwana has flashed signs of fulfilling the potential many saw in him as a Sounders Academy and University of Washington star. Most recently, that came in the MLS is Back Tournament where he had a goal and an assist in two appearances.
But as seems to be a pattern, he faded away shortly thereafter. Bwana started against Real Salt Lake on Sept. 2 but was pulled after 56 minutes. He failed to register a shot, only attempted 13 passes and didn’t even execute a dribble. Bwana played one minute off the bench in the Sounders’ next game, hasn’t played in any of the last eight and was left off the gameday roster in three of those.
A similar scenario played out last year. Bwana started reasonably strong and stayed in the rotation through August but then didn’t play in any of the Sounders’ last five regular-season matches or in the playoffs.