The Seattle Sounders are fresh off their first-ever MLS Cup victory, but general manager Garth Lagerwey certainly hasn’t read that as a cue to take it easy this offseason.
The Sounders made their second notable move in two days on Friday, with the announcement they acquired longtime Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin in exchange for both targeted and general allocation money. Bruin’s acquisition came on the heels of Thursday’s news that Seattle had landed midfielder Harry Shipp from the Montreal Impact.
Speaking with reporters on a Friday conference call, Lagerwey explained his rationale, saying that he believes both Bruin and Shipp will bolster a Sounders attack that lacked depth last season.
“We really felt like we needed another scoring option up top,” Lagerwey said. “We felt like, despite winning the title, that we weren’t varied enough in our attack. And I think both of these guys are goal-dangerous players. … That gives us a variety of options, a little more depth.
“That’s important, that we’re not going to stand pat. We’re not going to be complacent about winning. We’re going to try and improve our team.”
Another factor that Lagerwey said drew him to both players was their ages and price tags. Shipp is just 25 and was a 2014 finalist for the MLS Rookie of the Year award as a member of his hometown Chicago Fire before he was traded to Montreal.
Bruin is a six-year veteran and a proven goalscorer in MLS, with 50 tallies over 178 appearances with the Dynamo. But he’s still only 27, meaning he also fits in with Lagerwey’s oft-stated goal of trying to gradually make Seattle’s roster a younger one.
“We’re excited about having these young guys, these goal-dangerous guys,” Lagerwey said. “I think it’s important that we’re continuing to get a little bit younger, which we need to do. We’re excited about every aspect of these kids from a character perspective, from a profile perspective, from a position perspective. We believe we’re making our team better today.”
Of course, the arrival of Bruin and Shipp also will likely come at the expense of some key faces from Seattle’s 2016 title run.
Lagerwey said he thinks Shipp can play a similar role to that of 33-year-old midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz. Bruin, meanwhile, seems like a logical replacement for Paraguayan forward Nelson Valdez, who Lagerwey said is “unlikely” to return next season after he was extended an offer to come back with a substantial pay cut.
“These guys [Shipp and Bruin] are younger, cheaper alternatives to Andreas Ivanschitz and Nelson Valdez, as two examples. It makes it certainly more difficult for those guys to return,” Lagerwey said.
“We’re talking about guys who played lots of minutes over 18 months and into the playoffs. I can’t say enough about them and what they’ve added and to our culture. We’re really grateful for all their contributions, whether they appear again in a Sounders uniform or not.”