The Seattle Sounders selected Cal State Dominguez Hills defender Tony Alfaro with the 27th overall pick in Thursday’s 2016 MLS SuperDraft and Duke midfielder Zach Mathers eight slots later.
Alfaro, a 6-foot-2, left-footed center back, was named a Division II All-American during his senior year with the Toros. Rated by some as the most technical central defender in the draft, Alfaro appeared in 75 games in four seasons at Dominguez Hills. The native of Santa Barbara, Calif., will provide important depth at a position where the Sounders have several injury question marks.
“In an organizational basis, we really need to get deeper in the center back position,” Seattle general manager Garth Lagerwey said, referencing the Academy to S2 all the way up.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid that Alfaro is unique among the center backs on his roster both in being left-footed — Alfaro also projects as a left back, Schmid said — and with his passing ability. Alfaro was ranked in the top 10 on the Sounders draft board, and the front office was encouraged when other potential suitors traded out of the first round.
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“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, I think,” Schmid said.
Mathers, a 5-11 senior out of Keller, Texas, is projected as a holding midfielder. Mathers led the Blue Devils in scoring this past season and was named first-team All-ACC.
Schmid compared his vision and passing ability to current Sounders midfielder Erik Friberg.
“He oftentimes can find that first-time ball through the lines,” Schmid said. “Zach has that same ability … that 25-yard ball that plays between multiple lines.
“Both of these guys can make our team, and make our rotation.”
Seattle traded away its only first-round pick and allocation money to Chicago in exchange for a player to be named later — reportedly Trinidad and Tobago international Joevin Jones.
The final two rounds of the draft will take place Jan. 19 via conference call.