The Sounders have signed 15-year-old midfielder Danny Leyva, making him the youngest first-team signing in team history, the team announced Tuesday.
Sources confirmed to The Seattle Times last week that the team was planning to make the signing, first reported by The Athletic. Leyva impressed during two preseason matches with the Sounders in February and during training with the team during the FIFA international break in March. He was signed to a USL contract with the Sounders’ Tacoma Defiance last October. Last week, he was training with the United States U-17 men’s national team in Florida.
“We are pleased to announce the signing of Danny Leyva, not only in the sense of adding a quality player to our roster, but as a marker of our commitment to youth development overall,” Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said in a news release. “Danny has impressed us since entering our academy a couple years ago and has only further proved himself over the past few months while playing with Tacoma Defiance and throughout Sounders FC’s preseason. We are excited to continue his progress and see what he can bring as a member of our First Team.”
Leyva’s contract is guaranteed through 2022 with a club option for 2023, according to a Sounder at Heart report.
“At this club we try to reward players that earn a roster spot within the group, and Danny Leyva is no exception. If a player is good enough, regardless of age, we will give him a look,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “The coaching staff feels he is ready to participate in all first-team training, and if he continues to work and progress we will include him in games. I am very pleased with his overall commitment to the club, his training habits, and his ability to understand the concepts we are trying to implement this year. … Danny seems eager to learn and is a very coachable kid.”
The question becomes how Schmetzer will utilize Leyva in the rotation given his age and the fact he’ll join the team with the season already under way.
“The kid is super talented,” Schmetzer told reporters after practice Friday. “He’s not going to be thrust out there in the middle of a game where he’s not prepared. He is getting prepared all the time because his training with all of these older guys is helping him tremendously. I look back on Cristian (Roldan’s) development when he first came and (Cristian) was actually three, four years older, and Cristian soaked up all the knowledge. He watched. He paid attention. Danny has some of those same character traits. He watches. I see him watch all of the senior players. The senior players give him little bits of information. He soaks that information up. So, when we introduce him, I think he’ll be ready.”