Earlier this week, General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said the backline is where Sounders FC needs to improve the most in the offseason. His new club won the Supporters’ Shield and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2014, but its 50 conceded goals were tied for the most among playoff teams.
To solve that problem, Lagerwey and the Rave Green have made a few changes since last season. First they signed an experienced, proven right back in Tyrone Mears, and then captain Brad Evans was moved to centerback. On Tuesday, Sounders FC made yet another move to bolster its backline: The club signed Colombian left back Andrés Correa.
Correa, 21, was acquired as a Discovery Signing. The technical staff believes he could compete for playing time right away, which means Seattle has three viable options at left back including Leo Gonzalez and Dylan Remick.
“I would say numbers-wise we’re OK at left back. What we need is for somebody to actually play really well at left back,” Lagerwey said. “And to be clear, I think historically Leo has done that. I think it’s also fair to say that Leo is closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning.”
Gonzalez, 34, was the starting left back for most of last season. He has been a key part of the Sounders FC backline in all six of the club’s MLS seasons, being voted team Defender of the Year as recently as 2013.
On the other hand, Remick is just two years older than Correa. Both have plenty of professional experience, though, as Remick made 13 appearances for Seattle last season and Correa played in Colombia’s first division for four years.
Sounders FC first spotted Correa at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2013. Kurt Schmid, the club’s primary international and college scout, watched him play 90 minutes in Colombia’s 3-0 win over El Salvador. Correa ended up attending the club’s Las Vegas combine last December, when the rest of the technical staff was able to see just what Schmid had told them about.
“He’s good with the ball. Technically he’s very good,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He can attack from that side of the field. We’ll see how he adjusts to MLS and to living here.”
Correa, a left-footed, attacking-minded defender, has been with Sounders FC for the duration of the preseason. He started at left back in the club’s friendly against the LA Galaxy and assisted on Marco Pappa’s goal.
To add on to his challenge of adapting to a new league and group of teammates, Correa knows very little English. However, the transition has been made easier by the fact that many Sounders FC players speak Spanish.
“They’re the ones that explain to me the ins and outs of what’s going on in daily activities,” Correa said. “With time, I will be able to pick up the language and open up a little more.”
Fredy Montero, also Colombian, had to learn English when he arrived in Seattle for the club’s inaugural season. Montero had no problem adjusting to MLS and life in the USA, earning a pair of All-Star honors and U.S. Open Cup Player of the Tournament in 2011. Montero’s 47 goals for Sounders FC are by far the most in team history.
Sounders FC hopes Correa can be the next Colombian to have a stellar career in Seattle. There’s a good chance he will contribute in year one, as the club is participating in three different competitions in 2015.