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Covid-19 restrictions continue to hamper Sounders’ scouting ability

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Garth Lagerwey suggests team may be more conservative in the summer window as a result.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

One thing that’s been a constant during Garth Lagerwey’s tenure as Seattle Sounders general manager has been his willingness to sign players during the summer transfer window. During the six previous summer windows, the Sounders have made at least two notable additions every year. That list includes nine TAM or DP signings.

The Sounders have set up their roster for another active summer, with seven open spots and the ability to free up at least two more. Among those open spots are three for internationals — which Lagerwey has previously pledged to use — and presumably enough salary-cap space to make at least two “impact” signings.

Just how aggressive the Sounders will be with that flexibility remains to be seen, however, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is a big reason they may be inclined to pump the brakes.

“Scouting is going to continue to be impacted by Covid,” Lagerwey said during Tuesday’s installment of Sounders Weekly. “If you look at the State Departments warnings and the no-travel lists, wide swaths of South America are still on there. If you look at where we find most of our players, there’s still a lot of places you can’t travel to.

“Vaccines have not been as fast to roll out around the world. It’s a cautionary tale for us as Americans, that until the rest of world is vaccinated — not just here at home where we need to educate people on the importance of getting vaccinated — it is truly a global effort. That’s the only way you’re going to contain this.”

In particular, Lagerwey pointed to the raging outbreaks in places like India and Brazil — two of the world’s most populous countries — as reasons they won’t be able to resume normal scouting travel in time for the summer window.

“Maybe things are back to normal for the winter window, but that would require traveling in the fall,” he said. “We still don’t know.”

None of this means the Sounders will simply be content with the roster as it’s currently constructed, but Lagerwey did say that the Sounders are more likely to err on the side of being conservative when looking at big-money, longterm deals.

“That’s not to say we can’t identify players through video and analytics and certainly we have a new expert in-house in Craig Waibel that we’re going to take advantage of,” Lagerwey said. “There’s a bunch of possibilities, but it definitely isn’t easy and I think scouting its going to be difficult this year and we need to factor that into some of our evaluations.”

Notable summer signings since 2015

Player Type Year
Player Type Year
Erik Friberg Free 2015
Andres Ivanschitz Free 2015
Roman Torres TAM 2015
Nelson Valdez DP 2015
Nicolas Lodeiro DP 2016
Alvaro Fernandez Free 2016
Kelvin Leerdam TAM 2017
Victor Rodriguez TAM 2017
Lamar Neagle Trade 2017
Raul Ruidiaz DP 2018
Brad Smith TAM 2018
Emanuel Cecchini TAM 2019
Luis Silva Free 2019
Brad Smith TAM 2020
Roman Torres Trade 2020
Jimmy Medranda Trade 2020