The Sounders announced Friday they signed forward Justin Dhillon, who joined the USL’s Tacoma Defiance in March and started 10 of his 14 matches for the Defiance, scoring six goals in 902 minutes played.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer had an eye on Dhillon during training this week to help fill a void up top in the lineup. The club lost backup forward Will Bruin due to a season-ending knee injury and is without first-choice forwards Raul Ruidiaz (Peru) and Jordan Morris (U.S.) due to national team commitments.
Schmetzer could’ve relied on Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, a 17-year-old forward who also played for the Defiance. But there is concern regarding experience and not wanting to hinder Ocampo-Chavez’s development.
Before joining the Defiance, Dhillon started seven of 18 appearances for the USL’s LA Galaxy II in 2018 and scored three goals. He played in 21 games (13 starts) as a rookie in 2017, recording six goals and two assists.
“Individual development versus the needs of the first-team, that’s one of the big hot-button items within this organization,” Schmetzer said. “How do we balance our upcoming crop of really talented kids? To always bring them up to me and they don’t play games, then do they train with me and not play down there (Defiance) and get used to their teammates? It’s a conundrum at times.
“Alfonso has been one of those kids that has done really well. We don’t want to curtail that. Yet, I might play him on Saturday.”
Dhillon joins Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva as the three Defiance players to sign with the Sounders this season.
Seattle (7-4-5) hosts Vancouver (4-6-8) on Saturday at CenturyLink Field in the return to MLS play after a two-week break from league competitions.