Sounders sweet on defense in SuperDraft

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJanuary 17, 2014 

The Sounders selected Hartford defender Damion Lowe with the No. 8 overall pick in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

STEPHANIE GREENE/USA TODAY SPORTS

Seattle Sounders FC continued reshaping its back line Thursday, selecting two defenders in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.

With the eighth overall pick, the Sounders selected Damion Lowe from Hartford. With the second pick in the second round — 21st overall — they took Jimmy Ockford of Louisville.

The additions came a day after the Sounders acquired defender Jalil Anibaba from the Chicago Fire for veteran central defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni.

“We hate to see (Hurtado and Ianni leave) because they’ve been good guys for the club and have done well,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “But now we’ve got Anibaba, who is 25. We’ve got Lowe, who is Generation Adidas and has huge upside at 20; and we picked up Jimmy Ockford, who, if you compared him to anyone, is a young Zach Scott.”

The 6-foot-3 Lowe played three seasons at Hartford. In 2013, he received second-team all-Northeast region and first-team all-America East Conference honors on a defense that allowed a school-record 0.84 goals-against average.

The Jamaica native said his background adds special meaning to his selection.

“I’m from a community that basically it’s a ghetto: crime, violence, turf wars,” Lowe said by conference call. “Not much people from my community become as successful or fulfill their dreams basically. I know I’m my family’s breadwinner, so it’s just a dream come true. I have a lot of people who are proud of me right now, especially my community back home.”

Schmid said the club had expected Lowe to be taken a pick or two before the Sounders’ turn, and they were happy when he slipped. His Generation Adidas designation — intended to help develop young players — also lessens his impact on the team’s salary cap.

“I think he has big promise,” sporting director Chris Henderson said. “He reads the game well, understands it, decent speed. His marking is good.”

Draft day began with Philadelphia swinging a deal for D.C. United’s top overall pick. The Union then made Connecticut’s Andre Blake the first goalkeeper taken with the No. 1 pick.

The Sounders admitted they also were in a trading mood, but they weren’t able to swing a deal that would have gotten them into what they considered the difference-making top four picks.

Meanwhile, two alumni of Pierce County-based Sounders U-23 were drafted. Defender Taylor Peay, a University of Washington standout, went to the Portland Timbers with the 26th pick. Midfielder Eric Stevenson was taken eight spots later by the New York Red Bulls.

Two more SuperDraft rounds will be held Tuesday. Seattle holds the 55th and 77th picks.

The Sounders open training Jan. 25 at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. Their sixth regular season begins at home March 8 against MLS Cup champion Sporting Kansas City.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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