Former Seattle Sounders academy player Jordan Schweitzer officially signed a Homegrown Player contract with the club on Thursday after opting out of the MLS SuperDraft. Schweitzer played four seasons at the University of Denver after playing his high school soccer in Everett and spent three years in the Sounders academy. We spoke with Schweitzer about what it's like coming back to Seattle, the players he strives to emulate, and of course...Jordan Morris.
How does it feel to come back to Seattle to play for the team you grew up watching?
I mean, it's an amazing experience. It's what every academy kid wants to do. Growing up in the organization and seeing the fanbase and what they've already accomplished in such a short time in MLS, it's everything that I could have wanted. I'm definitely very excited.
What are your expectations for this first season?
I'm just going to go in and try to do as well as I can to adapt to the level, and hopefully make it a little difficult for the coaching staff to make their decisions. But I understand that development is a huge part of the professional game and I'm gonna take what I can get. Really looking forward to the chance, so we'll see what happens.
You've mentioned Osvaldo Alonso as a player whose style you strive to emulate, are there any other players you see as role models?
Another guy I loved watching while growing up is Brad Evans. He can do everything, for the most part. I admire his ability to adapt to different positions when the situation calls for it. I also talked a lot with Andy Rose back in my Sounders academy days. When you're around those guys, you just try to pick up on all the little things they do that make them professionals.
Are there any non-Sounders players that you admire?
Growing up, I was a big Steven Gerrard fan, especially because I was more of a box-to-box guy in my academy days so I tried to emulate him.
Do you prefer to stick with a holding midfield role, or do you aspire to be more of a versatile Brad Evans-style player?
I mean, to be honest, I'll play any position. I mean, don't stick me in goal, I won't be any good. But I've grown into the holding midfield role in college, and I've learned to appreciate that role. But wherever I get the chance to play, that's what I'll do.
What parts of your game are you hoping to improve in your first year as a Sounder?
I'd like to do my best to improve in every aspect of my game, because with every jump in level whether it's academy to college or college to pro, there's always that change of pace. So for me, I'd like to get as comfortable as I can with the professional game. I understand that it won't be too comfortable at the beginning. My goal is to be as consistent as possible at the highest level that I can reach, both in practices and in any games that I get to play in. I think that just being able to make an impact at this level will be the biggest challenge for me as a player, and that's where I hope to improve.
What is it about Seattle and the Sounders that made your forego the whole Draft process to sign here?
When you have one of the top-tier teams in MLS is showing interest in you, that's exciting. But also being able to be close to my family and friends, being able to be where I grew up and get the chance to play in front of that amazing fanbase, it's almost a no-brainer. And to go back to an organization that I've already trained with and enjoy playing with made it a little easier to make that decision.
When you found out that the Sounders wanted to sign you to the Homegrown contract, was it a big decision to go straight for it or did you ever plan to go all the way through the MLS Draft?
As with any big decision, there was some thinking and weighing of the options. But I won't lie, it wasn't hard to be pretty excited about Seattle's interest and contract offer. The chance to go home and play in front of the fans at a club of this size was just too good to pass up.
We couldn't let you go without asking about Jordan Morris. You guys played together at the academy back in the day. Have you spoken with him at all regarding his future? What are your thoughts on the whole situation?
I haven't talked to him recently. Obviously, who wouldn't be excited about the possibility of Jordan Morris playing with the Sounders? Selfishly, I hope I get the chance to play with him again. Having played with him at the academy, I can tell you that he's an amazing guy and a great player. But wherever he goes, I'll support him. I'm excited for him and wish him the best. We'll see what happens