After a season when the Seattle Sounders had probably their two most effective loans out ever, new GM Craig Waibel wants to look for more opportunities for young players. Fans should expect the handful of players who won’t develop with Tacoma Defiance and aren’t quite ready for Sounders first team action to head elsewhere.
“We have to take a very close look at [loans],” Waibel told Sounder at Heart. “I talk about participating in the international world of soccer, this is part of it. It is not abnormal for young players to go on loan.”
Pointing to the development that Sam Adeniran displayed with San Antonio, as well as the steps forward by Ethan Dobbelaere (MFK Vyškov) and Sota Kitahara (Pinzgau Saalfelden), the new GM suggests that loans are not a sign of giving up on a player.
“Part of the problem is the interpretation sometimes that it is admission of defeat, when in reality it’s actually the opportunity to get in the positivity games. You know, we have X amount of games to offer, so we might not have enough minutes to offer for all of our talented youth.”
That youth hole in 2022 included players like Dylan Teves, Abdoulaye Cissoko, Reed Baker-Whiting, and Dobbelaere.
Finding the right fit for these talents is a challenge. Some youth may take huge steps forward when not playing, like Josh Atencio in 2020. Others could develop when being coached by people outside of the org, even while hurt like Ethan’s trip to Czechia. There’s also the issue of transfer certificates, passports, and visas — a process that was made more difficult than typical in 2020 and 2021.
“Can they even go? Do they have heritage? Do they have passports? You know, there’s so many business things that come into it in the end. It’s not just about loaning a player to loan them, it’s about finding the right place so that they have a just chance to be successful.”
Incoming loans, too
Loans work both ways. The Sounders also want to explore opportunities to bring players in — being active in soccer’s international system should go both ways. That may mean players joining Defiance on loan, similar to Georgi Minoungou and Alfred Gombe-Fei.
“I think it’s loans in and out. I think with defiance we have to be very realistic about what we’re presenting. The opportunity we’re presenting is challenging. Are the players physically developed beyond or is their game at the Defiance level?”
With the Sounders having space on their roster, but no open DP slots and no open U22 slot, they may need to be more aggressive pursuing loans in to fill out the roster.
“We’ll continue to look at those opportunities because they’re also opportunities to capitalize on a player that isn’t being utilized.”