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Jane Gershovich

Seattle Sounders midfielder Jordy Delem rising to the occasion, making most of recent opportunities

Seattle Sounders midfielder Jordy Delem is making the most of his opportunities.

After Seattle’s 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, which marked Delem’s third consecutive start while Gustav Svensson recovers from a hamstring strain, teammates and coaches sang the praises of the low-key midfield general.

“Jordy Delem was very good tonight,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said in his post-match press conference on Saturday. “He was very, very good…I was very pleased with his ability to do what he does best, which is break up plays and be a force in the middle of the field, but he also helped us in our possession as well.”

A no-nonsense defensive midfielder capable of plugging in at center back, the Martinique international has quietly excelled since he joined the club’s USL Championship outfit back in 2016.

Despite his versatility, Delem feels most at home as a dedicated No. 6, relying on his intelligence, astute positioning and defensive grit as he shields the back four.

“He’s done quite well,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who earned his 70th career MLS regular-season shutout on Saturday. “I’m really happy to see him get minutes and use them so wisely, showcasing what he’s made of and what he can do.”

Along with goalkeeper, defensive midfield is arguably the most underappreciated job in soccer, which is probably why Frei admires the quality Delem has shown since he stepped into the lineup.

“[Delem’s] work rate is second to none,” Frei said. “Maybe a little bit of shades of [former Sounders captain] Ozzie [Alonso] in there. Some things that maybe you don’t see all the time because it’s the things he does off the ball. Maybe the guy who he’s guarding doesn’t get the ball. He’s covering a lot of ground and closing holes, making it difficult for strikers to find the ball in the pockets. I think those are the thankless things that players need to do because you don’t see it on TV, but he’s one of the guys who does it.”

Delem signs autographs after the win over Houston | Charis Wilson

Since Svensson went down with his hamstring injury in Seattle’s 2-2 draw with San Jose on April 24, Delem has started three straight matches. His numbers have been solid, registering 15 recoveries, eight tackles, eight clearances and four interceptions.

On the ball, he’s completed 82 percent of his 105 pass attempts across his last two starts, a sign of his growing comfort in Seattle’s possession-heavy system.

“Jordy plays to his strengths, and he does everything well for the team,” said central midfield partner Cristian Roldan. “He continues to progress. He’s an established pro by now. He does everything right. He knows how to play in various positions, and we couldn’t be prouder to have a guy like that to be ready if someone goes down.”

In Seattle’s 1-1 draw with LAFC, he helped contain a potent attack — LAFC had scored 25 goals in nine games — despite playing a man down for over 70 minutes. Against a revamped Minnesota United side, Delem once again was up for the challenge as Seattle secured a valuable point on the road.

Delem's successful tackles (green), interceptions (blue), recoveries (orange), blocks (yellow) and clearances (purple) against the Dynamo |

While he impressed in his first two starts, Delem’s showing against Houston was his best of the campaign. When the Dynamo attempted to create through Alberth Elis, Delem shaded to the outside, providing interior cover so the Honduran winger couldn’t cut inside toward goal. And when they tried to advance possession centrally, Delem clogged up the middle and denied Mauro Manotas of the service he requires to impact matches.

Though he can fly under the radar at times, Delem has enjoyed capitalizing on every opportunity to prove his teammates and his coaches right.

“It was good to get another start and a win in front of the fans,” said Delem. “It was a perfect night.”