There was a welcome face at Sounders FC training on Thursday, as new center back and Designated Player Xavier Arreaga practiced with the team for the first time since completing his move from Barcelona S.C. of the Ecuadorian Serie A.
Arreaga, who will don the No. 25 with the Rave Green, took to his new environment immediately, beaming as he spoke about the club and his new teammates.
“It’s a very competitive team, always fighting for the playoffs and always contending for titles,” he said through a translator. “It’s a very important team in this country, and that all influenced my decision.”
According to Arreaga, who was called up to the Ecuadorian national team for the Copa America in Brazil, his decision was driven by the Sounders’ historic success on the pitch. But as any player will tell you, the culture of the locker room is equally important.
Introducing No. 2️⃣5️⃣, Xavier Arreaga! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/KGn0LEkOpL— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) May 24, 2019
First impressions go a long way, and Seattle’s newest signing already feels at home in the Pacific Northwest.
“Well, it was a very good welcoming,” said Arreaga. “You feel that there is a family here and I’m very happy to be part of this family now. I come with lots of motivation and desire.”
A cerebral, physically commanding center back with plenty of technical ability, Arreaga also brings a wealth of experience and maturity that belie his age.
“There were a few of those moments [playing for Barcelona S.C.] where I could tell that his teammates looked up to him,” said Sporting Director and Vice President of Soccer Chris Henderson. “He was playing, at the time, as captain at a young age with other internationals who were older, veteran players. And they seemed to be looking at him for leadership.”
Arreaga (left) alongside new teammate Danny Leyva (right) | Mike Fiechtner
Arreaga’s playing ability has certainly impressed Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, but the Seattle steward opted to highlight his new signing’s character.
“He’s very composed on the ball,” said Schmetzer. “His positioning is very good, all that sort of stuff. But what I prefer to talk about is: He’s excited to be here, happy to be here. Very respectful young man, with his teammates and with the coaching staff and the training staff. A guy that fits into our culture.
“So, that was very nice to listen to him talk and what he wants to achieve here. He did research about the team and what a good team we are and what a good franchise we are. He wants to help continue that, and those are things that every coach wants to hear.”
The Sounders head to Kansas City this weekend for a Western Conference clash against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday (3:00 p.m. PT; FS1, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, 1360 El Rey AM).