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Jackson Ragen joins Sounders first team

The former Sounders Academy player was originally drafted by the Chicago Fire.

Charis Wilson courtesy of Seattle Sounders and Tacoma Defiance.

Looking a bit thin at centerback, the Seattle Sounders have bolstered the position by signing Jackson Ragen. The 6-foot-5 centerback has signed a first-team contract, the team announced on Monday.

“Jackson’s performance in preseason so far has earned him this opportunity with the First Team,” Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said in a team statement. “He joins a strong position group alongside a number of talented centerbacks, and we’re excited to see how he continues to improve.”

Although Ragen played several years for the Sounders Academy and for affiliate-club Seattle United before that, he was no longer eligible to sign a Homegrown Player contract after he was allowed to enter the 2021 MLS SuperDraft and subsequently picked by the Chicago Fire in the second round.

The Fire opted not to sign Ragen last year, clearing the way for him to return to the Sounders organization, where he signed with the Tacoma Defiance in August. Ragen ended up making playing all 90 minutes in each of his 16 appearances, logging 1,440 minutes and establishing himself as one of Wade Webber’s most consistent defenders. The Sounders then acquire his MLS rights earlier this year by sending a third-round pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft to the Fire.

A towering presence, Ragen scored one goal and took eight shots with the Defiance last year. He had 10 goals in four years at the University of Michigan, including five during his senior year.

Ragen is just the fourth natural centerback on the roster, joining Yeimar, Xavier Arreaga and AB Cissoko. Once formally announced, that will bring the Sounders roster to 28 players. It is believed that former Defiance players Joe Hafferty and Randy Mendoza are the top remaining contenders for first-team roster spots.