Joevin Arreaga Full DL

Joevin Jones, Xavier Arreaga bolster already strong Seattle Sounders roster

With the primary transfer window deadline looming, the Seattle Sounders finalized the signings of fullback/winger Joevin Jones and center back Xavier Arreaga just under the wire.

Sounders supporters will be intimately familiar with Jones, who spent two seasons in the Pacific Northwest and was a critical player for the 2016 MLS Cup championship side.

Arreaga, who joins the club from Barcelona SC in Ecuador, doesn’t hold the same name recognition as Jones. But according to Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerway, the 24-year-old Ecuadorian’s signing is the byproduct of years of hard work in the scouting department.

“We added a center back in what we view as a long-term signing,” said Lagerwey. “It was the oldest position group in the club, and we feel like we wanted to bring a little bit more balance there. This deal popped up and it was a player that we’ve been tracking for a long time, so we thought we could get a reasonable value at his time. We moved pretty quickly. The whole deal came together in about a week.”

Conversely, Jones’ return to Seattle bolsters an already strong attacking midfield corps, with his ability to slot in at various positions providing Head Coach Brian Schmetzer tactical flexibility.

“Joevin has done really well here and we’re excited to have him back,” said Lagerwey. “That gives us a little more attacking depth and some more options. Joevin is a versatile player: left back, left wing [or we can] flip him over and play him inverted as a right winger. We really feel like we addressed one area of long-term [need] at center back and another area of that attacking presence that we thought would improve the team.”

Having laid the painstaking groundwork of scouting and evaluating Jones and Arreaga over recent seasons, when the players became available toward the end of the window, the club pounced.

The way the deals are structured, with Arreaga being classified as a Designated Player (with the ability to be bought down in the future) and Jones’ transfer fee not kicking in until next season, the team still has the flexibility to improve the squad even further during the summer transfer window.

“This was creative to figure out how to put this together and still preserve our options for the summer, where we still have the ability to buy down Arreaga and still keep our doors open there,” said Lagerwey. “It was fortuitous how it came together, and a lot of people worked really hard this past week to get it done.”

With Jones returning to the team where he won consecutive Western Conference Championships and tallied 19 total assists in two seasons, Schmetzer is excited to be reunited with his former player.

Jones (right) celebrating with Oalex Anderson (left) and Oniel Fisher after winning MLS Cup 2016

“It put a smile on my face,” said Schmetzer. “He and I got a long really well. He’s a tremendous asset for the club, so I’m happy to have him back.”

The respective profiles of Arreaga and Jones, as well as the timing of their transfers, will fortify Seattle’s ambition to compete for trophies on multiple fronts.

“The other thing we’ve always talked about is Champions League,” said Lagerwey. “So, if a real impactful center back is available now, maybe from an efficiency stand point it’s six months too early, I’d rather sign him now. So, if we are successful, if we qualify for Champions League, in January we’re hitting the ground running and taking a shot at winning this thing, too.”