The Sounders Friday signed forward Darwin Jones, who had a standout two-year career at the University of Washington, to a Homegrown Player contract. The 22-year-old Jones earned All-Pac-12 first-team honors in each of the past two seasons, and is the fifth Homegrown Player signing in franchise history.
“We’re pleased to welcome Darwin to the Sounders FC First Team,” said head coach Sigi Schmid in a statement. “He’s an exciting player that we know well from our academy ranks and have been monitoring during his career at the University of Washington. Our Academy staff has done a tremendous job of developing players like Darwin, and we’re excited to add another quality Homegrown Player to our roster.”
Jones joins DeAndre Yedlin (2013), Sean Okoli, Aaron Kovar and Victor Mansaray (2014) as Homegrown signees.
“I’m humbled and excited to join Sounders FC and look forward to proving myself as an impact player for the club,” said Jones. “I’m looking forward to being in a competitive environment alongside a group of quality players that I can learn from inside a first-class organization.”
Jones had 15 goals and nine assists in 27 appearances across two seasons for the Huskies. He led UW with eight goals, 21 points and 74 shots in 2014, helping Washington to a 12-5-3 overall record and a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2013, he finished second on the team with 18 points (seven goals, four assists) and first with 91 shots as the UW went 16-2-4 and advanced to the Elite Eight.
Prior to transferring to Washington, Jones played his freshman season at Highline Community College, where he tallied 15 goals and 10 assists and led the Thunderbirds to the semifinals of the NWAACC playoffs, earning team MVP and NWAACC Northwest Region All-Star honors.
A member of the inaugural Sounders FC Academy class, Jones led the Sounders U-18 squad with 16 goals in 28 appearances during the 2010-11 season, playing alongside Yedlin, Kovar and Okoli.
Is “Homegrown Player” an actual formal MLS category? Just wondering.
I really enjoyed the original Sounders because it was a chance to see some true legends like Pele, Beckenbauer, Eusebio, Georgie Best, et al, come to Seattle, not to mention guys like Bobby Moore, Mike England and Geoff Hurst in Sounder togs. You’d see a D’Errico and Matos occasionally and Jimmy McAlister broke through in 1977 but there were very few domestic players in the NASL (although guys like Mark Peterson and Jeff Stock raised the bar for American-born talent by the end).
The modern-day Sounders and MLS have been very proactive in giving the Young Yanks a fair shot at playing time in a decent and improving league setting. The overall talent level among imports in the NASL was higher, but MLS has been built on a more solid foundation. Kudos for that.
Yes, “Homegrown Player” is a formal MLS player category. IIRC benefits include his salary exempt from the cap and protection from expansion drafts.