With a bitter taste of a disappointed MLS Cup loss still in their mouths and memory, the Seattle Sounders FC seem determined to return to a third consecutive MLS Title game and regain the Trophy they lost to Toronto FC in last years 2-0 MLS Title Cup match
With Monday, January 22nd being the clubs first official day of training for 2018 it is a sure bet the Sounders will announce some more tweaks to the team. A team that has been to the last two MLS Title is very unlikely to go through a club overhaul.
While he is no trader Bob or the quintessential river boat Gambler, Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey is always looking to improve the team especially now that he and Brian Schmetzer seem to be simpatico when it comes to players and coaches.
Last year Lagerwey added Will Bruin, Harry Shipp, and Gustav Svensson before the start of the season and added Kelvin Leerdam ,Victor Rodriguez during the MLS secondary transfer window ( July 10th to August 9th).
The Sounders have added fullback Waylon Francis, signed former University of Washington midfielder Handwalla Bwana to a Homegrown contract. While it is unlikely Handwalla will have an immediate impact of the Sounders first team Lagerwey is hoping Bwana can be as productive as former Husky players Cristian Roldan and Henry Wingo.
“We’re excited to add Handwalla to our squad, giving us another dynamic young prospect from our Academy,” said Lagerwey. “We would like to thank everyone in his development pathway who helped get him this far, including his coaches at Seattle United and Coach Jamie Clark’s staff at the University of Washington. Big things have small beginnings, and it’s now on us to continue that development process in the professional ranks.”
The Sounders also announced the hiring of Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevič on Friday as an assistant to Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. Preki joins current assistants Gonzalo Pineda, Djimi Traore and Tommy Dutra.
We are happy to add Preki to our staff as a guy with extensive experience as both a player and a coach,” said Vice President of Soccer & Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “It also helps that he has longstanding friendships with several members of our staff and management. He has a winning mentality that he proved as a player and as a coach, and we think he’ll be able to add value to our team.”
While Preki’s role is yet to be determined one can guess the former MLS player will work with the team on being more creative in the middle of the pitch.
Born in the former Yugoslavia and present day Serbia, Preki began his career with Serbian giants Red Star Belgrade in 1982 before moving to the United States and joining the Tacoma Stars indoor team in 1985.
He spent five years with Tacoma, including the final two as Schmetzer’s teammate, before each made the move to fellow indoor side the St. Louis Storm.
After leaving St. Louis, Preki had stints with English clubs Everton and Portsmouth before starting one of the most successful MLS careers ever when he joined the Kansas City Wizards in 1996, the league’s inaugural year. He is 19th all time in MLS in goals with 79 from 242 matches and fifth in assists with 112.
Preki acquired U.S. citizenship in 1996 and made his international debut at the seasoned age of 33. He scored four goals in 28 caps from 1996-2001.
“I’m excited to be back in Major League Soccer,” Preki said. “My family is from here. My first steps on this continent were here. I was in Tacoma with the Tacoma Stars, and I’ve always had great memories of this place. It’s a pretty easy move for me.”
Following the end of his playing career in 2005, Preki joined now-defunct Chivas USA as an assistant in 2006 before taking over as head coach from 2007-09. He managed Toronto FC in 2010 then spent more than three years away from coaching until United Soccer League side Sacramento Republic FC named Preki their manager in 2014. He left in 2015 before taking over fellow USL team St. Louis FC in 2017.