Sounders take defenders Damion Lowe, Jimmy Ockford in draft
After failed attempts to move up in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft, the Sounders’ desire to get younger and more athletic on defense was addressed when the team picked Damion Lowe, Jimmy Ockford.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Drafted: First round, No. 8 overall
Height, weight: 6-3, 175
Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica
Honors: All-America East (first team), All-Northeast region (second team)
Drafted: Second round, No. 21 overall
Height, weight: 6-1, 185
Hometown: Yardley, Pa.
Honors: AAC defender of the year
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Sounders FC came into the first day of the MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia with designs of trading into the top five, but while Thursday saw a flurry of picks change hands, Seattle ultimately couldn’t move higher than No. 8.
With their two picks, the Sounders got younger and more athletic on defense with center back Damion Lowe of Hartford and Jimmy Ockford of Louisville in the second round.
The third and fourth rounds will be held via conference call on Tuesday.
Day 1, though, had a sense of what might have been, particularly after having traded up from No. 13 to No. 8 in a deal with Chicago on Wednesday.
“We were hoping to parlay and maybe move it up a little bit higher,” said coach Sigi Schmid. “That’s what didn’t work out, but we also went through our draft list and said, ‘There are three guys here who we’d still be happy with at No. 8, if it came down to it.’ ”
Turns out, one was Lowe.
The 6-foot-3 Jamaican youth international had already signed with MLS as a member of Generation adidas, which means Lowe won’t count toward the salary cap next season — an added bonus.
“I think he has big promise,” said sporting director Chris Henderson.
Lowe, 20, has an impressive pedigree. His father, Onandi, played in the 1998 World Cup for Jamaica and in MLS with the Kansas City Wizards in 2000-01.
“Back home, I’m from a community where basically it’s the ghetto — gunshots, crime boiling, turf wars,” he said. “The community stays there because not many people ... become as successful and fulfill their dream. Right now, I’m my family’s bread winner, so it’s just a dream come true.”
Similar descriptions were used with Ockford, the 21st overall pick who was named AAC defender of the year following his senior season. Schmid and Henderson compared the 21-year-old to Sounders veteran Zach Scott.
“I’m hoping I can be a good physical presence coming in,” said Ockford.
National reaction to Sounders FC’s draft class was muted. ESPN.com called Seattle’s picks head-scratching, particularly on passing up on New Mexico’s Kyle Venter and Michigan State’s Kevin Cope, and MLSsoccer.com listed it in the “wait and see” category.
The Sounders’ next offseason priority is to address the midfield, and the team has been linked to the MLS return of Marco Pappa, who had 26 goals and 16 assists for Chicago from 2008-12. Henderson said midfield help is something the team has been working on and hopes to address formally “in a short period.”
• International reports have linked Seattle’s Obafemi Martins to a possible loan or transfer, but Schmid said “we expect him to be here at the start of the season.”
• University of Washington senior Taylor Peay was drafted in the second round, No. 26 overall, by the Portland Timbers.