TUKWILA, Wash. – Garth Lagerwey isn’t typically known for making a lot of noise during the primary transfer window.
The Seattle Sounders' general manager has historically been more active in the summer, with Designated Players Nicolas Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz the two most prominent examples of high-profile acquisitions he waited to make until midseason.
This year, however, Lagerwey went with a different approach. Seattle emerge from the primary transfer window, which closed on Tuesday, with a pair of significant additions, including a new Designated Player in Ecuadorian center back Xavier Arreaga. The 24-year-old Arreaga joins Seattle from Barcelona SC of Ecuador’s top flight, where he was the team captain and played four seasons.
“[Center back] was the oldest position group in [our] club,” Lagerwey told reporters Wednesday. “We feel like we wanted to bring a little bit more balance there.
“The center back position, to bring in a 24-year-old was kind of a no-brainer. This thing popped up, a guy who was on the top of our list for a long time. We got value here.”
In addition to Arreaga, Lagerwey also brought back a familiar face in Joevin Jones, who played for the Sounders from 2016-17 and spent the past one-and-a-half seasons with SV Darmstadt 98 of the 2. Bundesliga. Jones, who can play left back or on the wing, bagged 11 assists in 2017 before departing for Darmstadt and helped the Sounders to the MLS Cup title in 2016.
“[Jones] and I got along really well,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said on Wednesday. “I think he’s a tremendous asset to the club, so happy to have him back.
“He’s a very, very good attacking player. We won a ton of games with him involved in the group. Some of his assists, the timeliness, there are lots of good reasons to have him back.”
While Arreaga joins the club as a DP, he can be bought down with Targeted Allocation Money if the Sounders decide they want to add another DP to their attack in the summer. Ultimately, Lagerwey said, whatever moves the club makes this summer will be determined by how the club fares on the field over the next couple of months.
“It depends how we play,” he said. “We’ve tried to be patient, we’ve tried to take a long-term view, so as to where we’ll look to upgrade, I think it’ll depend on how players perform. As one starting point, we’re not sure exactly where Joevin’s going to go [on the field]. So, what happens with him probably has a knock-on effect as to how the team is set up.
“We feel like we’ve really got as much depth as we’ve had since I’ve been here,” he added. “We’ve got two months two evaluate and say, ‘How does it look? How are we doing?”
In the short-term, the Sounders will have to wait at least a bit before Arreaga and Jones can contribute.
Both players still have visa issues to sort out, and will also likely be called into national team duty with Jones figuring to feature for Trinidad and Tobago at this summer’s Gold Cup and Arreaga possibly in the fold for a call-in to Ecuador for the 2019 Copa América.
“The fact is these guys aren’t going to necessarily be on the field in the next couple months,” Lagerwey said. “I still think we’ve got a really good team. I don’t know if this changes us a whole lot over the next eight weeks, but I do think long-term these are good moves for the club.”