Player Features

Five reasons to be excited about new Seattle Sounders signings Léo Chú and Nicolas Benezet

Seattle Sounders FC announced last week the signing of two new players: 21-year-old Brazilian attacker Léo Chú from Gremio and midfielder Nicolás Benezet from the Colorado Rapids.

At the halfway point of the season, the Rave Green sit firmly in the race for the Western Conference title and Supporters’ Shield. Despite missing a host of First Team players, the squad is poised for a strong second half of the campaign as they pursue trophies across multiple competitions.

“To be clear, our priority is always going to be winning championships,” Sounders FC General Manager Garth Lagerwey told media on Thursday. “[The Léo Chú signing] and the Benezet move are made with the idea that we have a really good team, we’ve added pace that we didn’t have, and we’ve added another veteran piece that played in a [MLS Cup] final and played in the French first division. We think we’ve bolstered ourself for another stretch run.”

Here are five reasons to be excited about the Seattle Sounders’ newest additions.

Tapping Into Brazilian Market

Long heralded as one of the top global producers of soccer talent, Brazil has been a tricky market for MLS teams to navigate. Léo Chu follows in the footsteps of João Paulo in joining the Rave Green from the Brazilian topflight.

“It’s a marketplace where it’s historically been too expensive for MLS,” noted Lagerwey. “We’re now getting into Brazil and opening it up. Obviously with JP, he has absolutely hit out of the park and, for me, has been one of the best players on the team this year. We’re excited to have another Brazilian.”

Established Veteran & High Upside

Prior to the start of the 2021 MLS Regular Season, Lagerwey referred to this year’s roster build strategy as re-tooling around a veteran core with exciting young players. With these signings, the Sounders have managed to tick both of those boxes.

“By signing Léo Chū, we really add to our stable of young players,” said Lagerwey. “We look at him as an attacking Nouhou, somebody who is athletic, fast, electric, aggressive.”

Lagerwey added about Benezet: “He’s a good veteran add. He’s coming here for the stretch run and we’re really excited to add a player of his pedigree, who is formally a starter in the French first division and has been a good player in MLS as well.”

Formation Flexibility

Up until this season, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer had consistently rolled out his side in a 4-2-3-1 since taking the helm midway through 2016. The current campaign has seen the squad transition to a new three-back system, in part due to a shortage of wingers on the roster. With Léo Chú and Benezet joining, the club can toggle between both tactical systems.

“One of the things that we kicked around is, if we get the mix of players right, could we flip between a 4-2-3-1 and a 3-4-2-1, or some version of that,” said Lagerwey. “Those decisions will be made by the coaches. They are the tacticians. But we just wanted to give them some options.”

New Ingredients

The individual skillsets and profiles of Seattle’s new signings also offer a bit of diversity to the current roster.

“Léo Chú is more of a wide type but allows us even within games to change our look a little bit,” said Lagerwey. “We can bring on a player who is very fast. The one quality we really didn’t have in the group this year without Jordan is speed. It was really important to us to add a pacey winger, and we believe we’ve done that.”

Foreshadowing of Future Signings

While Benezet’s addition follows a familiar blueprint in recent seasons – Kelyn Rowe, Fredy Montero and Shane O’Neill are all MLS vets who’ve made significant contributions – Léo Chú marks the club’s first foray into signing a player through the new U-22 Initiative. It is also an evolution of the club’s commitment to signing and developing exciting young players.

“I don’t think there’s any turning back: we’re in the Great Game now,” Lagerwey said, making a Game of Thrones reference. “This is the way forward for the club. This is a sustainable path for success. This is the sustainable way to maintain championship teams year after year after year after year.”



Grab your tickets and celebrate our 50th Anniversary Season!



Pick your matches and unlock exclusive benefits such as merchandise, on-field experiences, Suite upgrades, and more!

2024 Season Memberships

2024 Season Memberships

Our 50th Anniversary season meets our most fan-friendly membership yet.