The Sounders announced they'll add Spanish league midfielder Victor Rodriguez this week, while confirming left back Joevin Jones has signed a pre-contract in Germany and will leave in January
Things are getting awfully crowded and interesting in the Sounders’ midfield, with the team confirming Monday it will soon add Spanish veteran Victor Rodriguez to the mix for targetted allocation money.
The deal is to be officially announced Tuesday once related paperwork gets finalized, but Rodriguez, 28, a nine-year Spanish veteran with teams in that country’s first and second La Liga divisions, was out training with the Sounders in Tukwila on Monday. Rodriguez, is a natural winger on either side, but has most recently played on the right for second-division squad Sporting Gijon.
The Sounders will look to use him primarily at a left wing spot that’s been a revolving door of sorts.
“We brought him here because he’s technically good, a solid passer and gets around the field,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said.
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Rodriguez’s addition corresponds with the news that Joevin Jones — who most recently has been pushed up to left wing while Nouhou Tolo occupies the left back spot — has signed a pre-contract with German second division squad Darmstadt and will leave by season’s end. In many ways, the emergence of Nouhou and the signing of Rodriguez has helped prepare the Sounders for the departure of one of their top players.
“This was a risk when we traded for him,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said of acquiring Jones from the Chicago Fire before last season. “He’s a really good player…but it really was surprising that he was available. And one of the reasons was he didn’t have a long term contract in the league.
“We had conversations with him about trying to secure that, but we knew this day might come and ultimately Joevin chose to go to Germany.”
Trinidad native Jones has long expressed the desire to go to Europe and been blunt about using Major League Soccer as a transition point to getting there. Back in April, in a rare interview, he told The Seattle Times: “I think I have a good chance now to play in one of those leagues. To test my strengths and weaknesses and see where I am as a player now and whether I can get to the highest level.’’
The Sounders for now will have Jones, whose nine assists this season are one off the league lead, until his scheduled departure next January. But that could change if the team was to work out a financial arrangement with Darmstadt allowing him to transfer earlier.
Plenty will depend on the continued emergence of Nouhou, who made his fourth start at left back on Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Nouhou playing there has allowed the team to move Joevin up to the midfield, but the arrival of Rodriguez should eliminate much of that need.
Lagerwey said the team made “a significant offer” that Jones rebuffed. But the GM added that allowing players to leave is part of participating in the international transfer market and the Sounders will do themselves no good in the long run by denying their wishes to go elsewhere.
On Rodriguez, he said: “This is a player who’s played over 100 times in La Ligua. I don’t think we’ve had a La Liga player come in here before, so that’s a pretty high level from a global team perspective and that leads us to believe he has a good chance of success.”
Lagerwey said the Sounders had scouted Rodriguez the past two years and jumped at the chance to add him. They’ll look to put him at left wing as soon as he’s ready, most likely by the team’s Aug. 12 home game against Sporting Kansas City.
“Certainly what we like about him is he’s a versatile player,” Lagerwey added. “We believe he can play anywhere in that band of three.”
Rodriguez is the second TAM player singed by the team this month, joining Dutch right back Kelvin Leerdam. The Sounders are also interested in snaring Paraguayan midfielder Derlis Gonzalez as a designated player once his Dynamo Kiev team finishes playing the second leg of a Champions League series on Tuesday.
Gonzalez has expressed interest in coming to the Sounders, but Dynamo is reportedly commanding a high transfer price. The Sounders would have until Aug. 9 to work out a deal before the summer transfer window closes.