Welcome to Seattle, Kelvin Leerdam.
The Sounders on Saturday announced the signing of the 27-year-old Dutch right fullback from SBV Vitesse in the Eredivisie, the Netherlands’ top flight. A native of Utretcht, Leerdam has spent his entire nine-year professional career in his home country, making over 180 appearances for Feyenoord and Vitesse.
Seattle acquired Leerdam with Targeted Allocation Money, and per MLS and club policy, terms of the deal are not disclosed. He has been added to the Sounders’ roster pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate, and he will be eligible to compete in league play on July 10 when the MLS summer transfer window opens.
Leerdam is a fullback in the Joevin Jones mold — pacey, technical and loves to push forward in the attack — and will immediately shore up the Sounders’ back line. His addition will provide depth and dimension with Brad Evans and Oniel Fisher, as well as free Head Coach Brian Schmetzer from playing Jordy Delem, Gustav Svensson and Cristian Roldan there out of necessity.
Leerdam is an atypical MLS defender, who, like Jones, enjoys operating more as a wingback or secondary winger and run at opposing defenses in space. Leerdam has 17 career goals, including a career-high eight in the 2013-14 season, and adds another dynamic element to the attack.
“He has a certain way that he wants to play and it fits what we were looking for as well,” said Sounders Sporting Director and Vice President of Soccer Chris Henderson. “With the style that we have, with our outside backs getting a great number of touches each game, it’s an important position for our squad.”
Dutch Total Football has produced some of the best players in the world, most of whom were developed in Dutch academies and began their careers on Dutch teams. There is a history and style to the way the Netherlands play, one that is free-flowing, attacking, intelligent and technically sound. There is a reason why the byproducts of the Netherlands’ youth system are so strongly sought after.
“[Leerdam] checks a lot of boxes that we’re looking for in a player to come to our club,” said Henderson. “He has great experience playing at Feyenoord and Vitesse and his time with the Under-19 and Under-21 Netherlands teams, and he’s at a really good age to come over and help us for years to come.”
The Sounders worked with several agents who had recommended Leerdam, but High Performance Director Dave Tenney was instrumental in the transaction. Through Tenney’s connections to several Dutch contacts on the performance fitness side, Seattle had a better look at Leerdam and evaluated him on a deeper level. The Sounders spent the last six months tracking him, but he had been on some personnel’s radar even longer.
One of the biggest selling points for the Sounders was how committed Leerdam was to coming to Seattle and immediately making an impact. He understands he’s joining a team fresh off a championship and is eager to contribute in the second half of this season and beyond.
“When we spoke with him and interviewed him, he said all the right things,” said Henderson. “The one thing that intrigued me is that he really cares how he can affect the team, how he can improve the team, what place he has among the group trying to accomplish something.
“We expect him to come in fit and ready to go.”