UPDATE: The Sounders made this news official on Saturday.
Ethan Dobbelaere will spend the first few months of the 2022 season on loan to Czech second-division team MFK Vyškov, Sounder at Heart has learned. Dobbelaere is already in Czechia — also known as the Czech Republic — and even appeared in a friendly.
The 19-year-old bounced between the Seattle Sounders and Tacoma Defiance last season, logging about 1,100 minutes between the two teams. Dobbelaere made two starts for the Sounders, including the 1-0 win over Austin FC that featured one of the youngest-ever lineups in MLS history. As he did in that game, Dobbelaere spent the bulk of his time with the Defiance playing as a right wingback.
Dobbelaere signed with the Defiance in 2019 after making several appearances for the United States U17 team and then signed a Homegrown contract with the Sounders in 2020.
The loan is expected to last through the rest of Vyškov’s season, which runs through May, and will not open a roster spot on the Sounders, at least not yet. The expectation is that Dobbelaere will return to the Sounders at the end of the loan. The Sounders could theoretically send him out on loan somewhere else for the rest of the season if they felt as though they needed that roster spot.
The loan is broadly similar to the one the Sounders sent Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Sota Kitahara on when they spent part of last year with FC Pinzgau Saalfelden of the Austrian third division. In both cases, Sounders Sporting Director Craig Waibel leveraged personal connections he had at the team to find new opportunities. In the case of Vyškov, Waibel’s connection is through former USMNT defender Leo Cullen, who serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the club’s ownership group. Cullen was also teammates with Garth Lagerwey with the Miami Fusion and former Sounders Sporting Director Chris Henderson with the Colorado Rapids.
Vyškov is a relatively small club, but one with more than 100 years of history. They won promotion to the second division last year after finishing atop the Covid-shortened third-division season.