There’s been a distinct Seattle vibe throughout the offseason for Sounders FC.
Back in January, Homegrown star Jordan Morris was sent on loan to EFL Championship side Swansea City. Chris Henderson, who grew up in Everett and spent the last 13 years driving the soccer operations for the Rave Green, departed the Pacific Northwest to become Chief Soccer Officer at Inter Miami CF.
The team has also seen an infusion of local ties in recent weeks.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, whose connection to the Sounders date back to his playing days in the 1980’s, agreed to a multiyear contract extension.
I’m very pleased to be able to continue my coaching career with the club that is so close to my heart,” Schmetzer wrote in an open letter to fans. “Seattle Sounders FC has excelled in its commitment to winning and the community. I take my stewardship of the club with great honor and privilege, as the connection with our fans is sacred and has been at the cornerstone of our franchise.”
Local product Kelyn Rowe, a proven commodity in MLS to the tune of 30 goals and 44 assists from just over 250 MLS appearances, made his long-awaited return to the Pacific Northwest.
“I’ve wanted to play here for a longtime,” the Federal Way native told media during his first press conference. “It helps that I get to come home and play for one of the best teams in the league. Not everybody can say that when they go play for their hometown club.”
On Tuesday, goalkeeper Spencer Richey, who once played for the youth club run by Schmetzer and attended Roosevelt High School, officially signed with the club. Richey played his college ball at the University of Washington, joking that he knew Cristian Roldan before he was a “Sounders legend”. He also shared his excitement for his professional soccer journey taking him back to the city that raised him.
“I spent a lot of time [as a kid] supporting and attending Seattle pro teams,” Richey told the media. “It’s pretty damn cool to be a part of one now.”
Beyond the recent additions, the Sounders roster is littered with players who hold ties to the local community.
Cristian Roldan burst onto the scene as a high-flying prospect with UW, while Alex Roldan established himself as a top player for Seattle University.
Josh Atencio and Ethan Dobbelaere, who used to compete against one another in Washington State Cup before spending five years in the club’s youth system, are the only two of the club’s cohort of Homegrown Players who were born and raised in Seattle. But as Schmetzer noted in an interview on the Sounder at Heart Podcast, players like Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva joined the club’s Academy at such a young age that they’ve been steeped in the organization’s history and culture for years.
As the Rave Green prepare for the 2021 season, the club’s success on the pitch will be determined by a team and coaching staff that truly understands what it means to be a Sounder.