With the MLS expansion draft done and gone, Seattle Sounders technical director Chris Henderson broke down some of the players the team acquired in a teleconference on Wednesday.
Henderson and general manager Adrian Hanauer both stressed
that they were looking for balance in the draft. To some extent they
found it. They collected players with versatility, fair wages, and a
battling usefulness. The haul was a young one with an average age just
but Henderson made it clear that he saw a lot of upside in the squad.
One of the players commonly asked about was New York Red
Bulls defender Jeff Parke. Parke was part of the Red Bulls drug scandal
as well as a leaky defensive line, but Henderson was more interested in
discussing the player for his positive individual qualities.
“He’s a great player,” Henderson said of Parke. “He’s got
experience. He’s very athletic. He’s got tremendous upside.”
Parke is a very solid defender, who could still turn into a
dominant force in MLS, but he will still be suspended when the 2009 season
begins. The 26-year-old is also out of contract and is not obligated to sign
Even if he does, he will demand a decent wage with the threat of leaving for Europe as a free agent as his bargaining chip.
Another player who Henderson seemed to think highly of was
Columbus Crew midfielder Brad Evans who the Sounders selected with their last pick
in the expansion draft.
“He an exciting central player, I think he was a very big
part of Columbus’ championship run,” Henderson said. “He has a great desire to
improve as a player.”
Evans, whose end-to-end work earned him a regular spot on
the field for the MLS champions, should be a vital part of the 2009 Sounders.
His defensive cover could be a key component to getting the best out of designated player Freddy Ljundberg.
But the decision to pass over fellow Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven for Evans seemed
to be the choice of a known commodity versus a lesser know player with major
One other curious player decision was passed off as a move
toward upside for the team. Rather than selecting 21-year-old midfielder Johann
Smith from Toronto, Seattle went with 24-year-old forward Jarrod Smith.
The move left many scratching their heads wondering if Seattle had accidentally selected the wrong Smith.
“I think (Jarrod Smith) is hungry to prove himself,” said
Henderson explained of the decision to select the New Zealand international. “He is a versatile player. He’s a
strong target-type forward, but he can also play other positions. We see a
tremendous upside with Jarred.”
Overall Henderson thinks the Sounders are rounding out
“I think we’re in a very good situation,” he said. “I think
the balance of the team at the moment is very good.”
Oh, and they've got tremendous upside.
--Allen Ramsey, Goal.com