Joining the Seattle Sounders was a no-brainer for new signing Shane O’Neill.
“It’s an easy decision to join the champions,” O’Neill said after training on Tuesday. “Thankfully, we made it happen pretty quickly so I could get with the team from the start of preseason.”
O’Neill, 26, brings a wealth of professional experience at a position of need. A central defender that thrives in 1-v-1 duels, O’Neill became a week-in, week-out starter in MLS with the Colorado Rapids by the time he was 19 years old, which earned him a spot on the United States U-20 national team for the 2013 U-20 World Cup.
It’s a case of right place, right time for O’Neill, who is eager to fight for playing time with the defending MLS Cup champions.
“I think for me it’s about coming in and proving what I can do,” added O’Neill. “Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I can show that I can make an impact.”
Center backs, and defenders in general, tend to follow a longer developmental curve than their attacking counterparts. But at 26 years old, O’Neill has already racked up over 125 appearances for club and country.
With eight years of professional experience under his belt, O’Neill was eager to join a club with a rich history of competing for trophies.
“At this point in my career, I’ve been desperate to be part of a team that has a winning culture and just see what that’s all about,” he said. “No matter what that means in terms of playing time, it was more about wanting to get better as a player and challenging myself. There’s no better club in MLS for that than Seattle. That’s why it was an easy decision.”
It’s still early days for O’Neill’s tenure in Seattle. But based on first impressions, Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer is excited about the newest addition to the Rave Green.
“He’s a good, steady player,” said Schmetzer. “He’ll be a useful player to have. So, I’m happy that he’s out here.”
Seattle’s MLS opener is still six weeks away. For O’Neill, he can’t wait to take the pitch at CenturyLink Field, this time donning the club’s iconic Rave Green jersey.
“It’s obviously the best atmosphere in MLS.”