Joevin Jones is in the midst of a torrid 2017 season that has seen him tally nine assists in 21 games and emerge as one of the league's best fullbacks.
His run led to a slew of rumors of overseas interest in recent months surrounding the 25-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international – rumors that have come to fruition with SV Darmstadt 98 of Germany’s 2. Bundesliga announcing Sunday that he had signed a contract with the club and will depart the Seattle Sounders at the end of the 2017 MLS season.
Speaking with reporters at Seattle’s practice at Starfire Sports Complex on Monday, Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey confirmed that Jones has signed with Darmstadt and will join the German club in January.
“This was a risk when we traded for him,” Lagerwey said. “Honestly, he’s a really good player. Increasingly, you’re seeing some good players move [via trade] within MLS but if you go back to that time, it really was surprising he was available and one of the reasons was he didn’t have a long-term contract in the league.”
Lagerwey also said that the Sounders had engaged in dialogue with Jones about a contract that would have kept him in Seattle, but Jones decided that the overseas move was the best course of action.
“We had conversations with him about trying to secure [a contract in Seattle] but we knew this day might come,” Lagerwey said. “Ultimately Joevin chose to go to Germany. …I don’t have a lot to offer in terms of [specifics] other than that we made a significant offer and would have liked to retain him. It wasn’t a lack of resources or anything like that; it was his choice. He wanted to go and he went.
“It’s certainly exciting when we sign players and when we add players, but the reality is that we’re going to have players going out the other way.”
Jones emerged as an invaluable cog in Seattle’s back line after arriving in a trade with the Chicago Fire before the 2016 season and has further established himself this year as a capable defender and a game-altering attacking force on the left flank.
The Sounders do seemingly have a viable contingency plan waiting to take the reins in 20-year-old Cameroonian Nouhou, who has emerged as one of the surprise performers of Seattle’s season thus far. Still, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said it will be tough to watch him go given his consistency and dynamic play.
He added, however, that he expects to see Jones do everything in his power to contribute to the Sounders’ MLS Cup title defense as he sees out the season in Seattle.
“Me personally, I’m going to miss him,” Schmetzer said. “Joevin is a good pro. He has a lot of credibility within the group, not just because he’s a good player, but because he’s a good team player and he’s a good guy. So, I expect him, as long as he’s here, to do exactly what the team needs to win games. And he’s proven that in the two years he’s been here.”