TUKWILA, Wash. — With five players away on international duty for the Seattle Sounders’ international friendly against Mexico’s Club Necaxa on Saturday (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, ROOT Sports outside Seattle, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) there will be a huge opportunity for some of the Rave Green’s younger players to make an impression.
After a dazzling preseason, 2017 Homegrown signee Henry Wingo has come on as a substitute in each of the Sounders’ first three regular-season matches. Wingo, 21, has continued to improve since joining the first team from the University of Washington and has proved a late-game asset with his pace and quality on the ball.
Wingo made his home debut in the Sounders’ 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend, coming on for Clint Dempsey in the 90th minute and playing the final three minutes of stoppage time. It was by far the largest crowd Wingo had every played in front of and he attempted to not let the moment overwhelm him.
“It was crazy,” Wingo said. “I tried not to think about everybody in the stands watching. I just tried to go out there and give everything I could for those last few minutes. That’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time.”
The next step in the development process of a player like Wingo is finding opportunities for him to get more reps against good competition. A home friendly against a Liga MX opponent fits the bill nicely.
“[Necaxa is] not going to play like your everyday MLS team,” Wingo said. “They might play a little [craftier], they might have some guys who are better on the ball and have different tendencies than we’re used to seeing. It’ll be a good game for us, a good test with some good players and seeing a little different side of the game.”
Head coach Brian Schmetzer said there’s a good chance Wingo could go 90 minutes. He plans to use his time on the pitch to get his feet underneath him, absorb the rhythm of a professional match from start to finish and become more acclimated to his new home surface at CenturyLink Field.
“It’s super important for me to go out there and show [the coaching staff] that I have the ability to play at a high level and give them confidence in me so they feel confident when they put me in the game whatever weekend it might be in the MLS season,” Wingo said. “It’s important for myself to just feel comfortable out there and play my game and also show the coaches why I’m a part of this team.”