Ahead of Saturday’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM; TICKETS), the Seattle Sounders announced the signing of Tacoma Defiance forward Justin Dhillon on Friday.
“It’s amazing,” said Dhillon. “I’ve always been striving to have a moment in MLS, and I’m really grateful for the opportunity the Sounders have given me. I’m really excited to get started.”
Dhillon, 24, is the third player from the club’s USL Championship outfit to ink a contract with the Sounders First Team in 2019, following in the footsteps of Homegrown players Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez.
Dhillon has been in excellent form all season for the Defiance | Charis Wilson
“There’s three of us who have performed well and have been given this opportunity,” said Dhillon. “So, for all of the other guys coming through the system, it shows that no matter who you are, what age or anything, you have a chance. As long as you perform and show that you’re capable and ready, your named could be called.”
A product of the LA Galaxy Academy, Dhillon plied his trade for Cal Poly University for four seasons before signing with Galaxy II in 2017.
Blessed with size, soft feet and a knack for timing his runs, the California native enjoyed a solid debut season in the USL Championship, tallying six goals and two assists. Injuries interrupted Dhillon’s momentum in 2018, as he bagged three goals 18 matches during his second year with Galaxy II.
“Well, they’re both back-to-goal, [in-the-box[ strikers,” Schmetzer said. “That’s kind of their M.O. There are subtle differences between the players. But that’s one of the reasons why we elected to sign him because if you look at the other forwards on our roster, we didn’t have that type of back-to-goal, target-type striker, which you can use from time to time.”
After impressing the Defiance staff in preseason, Dhillon earned a contract with the Tacoma side ahead of the 2019 campaign. That decision has paid dividends, as he’s already matched his scouring output from 2017 from just 14 appearances, leading the team with six goals.
The increased speed of play and quality will be an adjustment, but Dhillon joins the Sounders with a built-in understanding of the team’s tactics, as the Defiance employ a similar game model.
“The Tacoma Defiance and the Sounders play pretty much the same system and we’re taught the same principles,” said Dhillon. “With that being said, being able to make the jump to the First Team and still having those same core principles makes the adjustment a lot easier.”