Player Features

"He's a winner": Paul Rothrock makes it big with recent signing to Sounders First Team

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The decision to sign Tacoma Defiance midfielder Paul Rothrock to a First Team contract was inevitable.

After making a positive impact with Defiance and supporting the Sounders with two US Open Cup goals and a MLS game-winner over Houston Dynamo earlier this year, Rothrock’s presence on the pitch earned him a spot on the Rave Green roster.

“Paul’s done well this year and he’s definitely earned the opportunity,” said General Manager and Chief Soccer Officer Craig Waibel. “We believe you've got to prove yourself within our system and Paul's done nothing short of that over the course of the season not only with Defiance, but in the opportunities he's received with the First Team.”

Since Rothrock’s arrival in January to the Tacoma Defiance squad, he’s proven to himself and the Sounders staff how he can contribute to the First Team. Whether it be through his work ethic in practice and in games, or his character off the pitch, there was no question that Rothrock was ready to take the next step in competing at a higher level.

“He's a winner,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “He finds ways to help his team win games, he’s a smart soccer player, and he makes stuff happen.”

To be a top flight professional soccer player has been a dream for Rothrock since he was young, and to be representing his hometown club makes it that much more special.

“In the [Sounders] inaugural match, I remember saying to my dad, ‘I'm going to do this one day,’ so [I’m feeling] relief, joy and pride.” said Rothrock. “This is a great success story for me but it's also a big success for the community of Seattle…I grew up in the club systems of Seattle, playing for school teams, Seattle United, [Seattle Sounders] Academy here, so I have a lot of people to thank.”

While it’s become more normalized to go through the pathway of MLS Next/Academy, MLS NEXT Pro, to then eventually signing to the First Team of an organization, Rothrock took a different route in his journey to the top.

The Homegrown Player transitioned to the college soccer scene post-Academy where he redshirted with Notre Dame his freshman year before transferring to Georgetown University. From there, he led the Big East squad to its first National Championship in 2019 and through his efforts on the pitch, received the opportunity to compete in the big leagues after getting drafted 64th overall to Toronto FC in 2021.

His time in Toronto was brief after supporting the second team to 12 goals over the course of 2 seasons before making his way back to his home club for the 2023 year.

It’s been an “unorthodox path,” for Rothrock as described by Schmetzer, but his experience playing with different team’s has given him the growth necessary to have a large influence with Seattle Sounders’ First Team.

“Everywhere I've gone I've found a way to win, and I think more than anything, I bring novelty right now,” said Rothrock. “I'm new and fresh, I bring something different to the group, I give the coaches a different look on the field, and I'm excited for the possibilities that that brings for the team this year.”

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