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Letting Ryan Herman enter draft was 'moral obligation'

Highly regarded goalkeeper was picked in first round by FC Dallas, while Sounders got nothing.

Courtesy of University of Washington athletics

How well the Seattle Sounders did in this year's SuperDraft is still very much to-be-determined, yet one of the more notable bits of news to come out of the Sounders' draft was the signing they ultimately decided not to make.

Former University of Washington goalkeeper Ryan Herman was eligible for a Homegrown Player contract, however the Sounders allowed him to enter the draft where he was eventually taken with the No. 17 overall pick by FC Dallas.

It would be fair to wonder if the Sounders couldn't have extracted some value from Herman, but not doing so was apparently a measured decision.

"As far as we were told, he was a Homegrown Player. That was not in question," Sounders GM and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said during a recent interview on Nos Audietis. "Our internal question was ‘Does this kid make our team?' and if not then we have a moral obligation to let him enter the draft.

"Yes, Homegrown Player rights can be traded, but leveraging a player who has never played for us in a way that might impede his future ... if you're going to run an academy and you're going to work with kids, you better have the kids' best interest at heart."

Lagerwey said it was simply a matter of not seeing much of a future for Herman in the Sounders organization. Stefan Frei is the unquestioned starter and the Sounders took two goalkeepers in last year's SuperDraft (Tyler Miller and Charlie Lyon) who they are confident with as first-team backups and/or S2 starters.

"We could be wrong (about Herman) but that's on us," Lagerwey said. "If Ryan Herman has an unbelievable career and is a 10-year starter, fair enough. But we like our goalkeepers and they've done everything we've asked of them. Would he have come to preseason with us? Yes. But the prospects of him making the team were almost zero. And, again, he was too good of a player for us to fairly take away that opportunity to sign him to a Homegrown Player contract and park him at S2 and, by the way, 'you probably won't play that much as S2 because there are two other young goalkeepers we like.'"

Allowing a local product to leave without compensation certainly opens up the Sounders for some criticism, but Lagerwey said he's hopeful that it's ultimately seen as a positive recruiting tool.

"The best advertisement for the academy is having a lot of kids going on to play professionally at the level that suits them," Lagerwey said. "If that's DeAndre [Yedlin] going to play abroad or whatever happens with Jordan [Morris], we don't want to be in a position of obstructing anyone no matter where they want to play.

"When you obfuscate people's paths, good things don't happen. Hopefully if you treat everyone as best you can, maybe you get the benefit of the doubt some time down the road."

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