Darwin Jones has watched his share of Seattle Sounders games at CenturyLink Field, and on Saturday he got to play in one.
“This was a moment I dreamed about pretty much from when I started playing soccer, from the days I used to watch the USL team play here,” he said. “… It was a thing my club team used to do: We used to come watch the USL Sounders team play a lot. Once they made it to MLS, it was a goal for me.”
That goal was achieved in the 84th minute Saturday, when Jones was subbed on in what ended as a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City.
Jones was one of two rookies from the University of Washington that coach Sigi Schmid turned to off the bench, the other being first-round draft choice Cristian Roldan.
“Roldan got caught a little bit — I thought he did all right,” Schmid said. “Darwin obviously has speed and presents that danger to an opponent, so we felt those options were the best to come on at that time because they are more offensive players and they could provide us something. Darwin’s stint was sort of short, so it’s tough to completely evaluate it.”
Jones played the final six minutes in relief of veteran forward Chad Barrett.
“It felt good being out there in front of the crowd, being a part of the team,” he said. “I was excited about that.”
Jones is from Des Moines. He played three seasons with Mount Rainier High School, and with club teams Highline Premier and Washington Premier before going on to play for Highline Community College and UW, where he was an all-Pac-12 player as a junior and senior. He also played with the Pierce County-based Sounders U-23 and as part of the Sounders FC Academy.
That made him eligible to sign as a Seattle homegrown player, which he did on Jan. 9.
He spent the early parts of this season bouncing between training sessions with the MLS Sounders and the Sounders 2 USL team, but playing exclusively for S2.
That changed May 16, when he made his MLS debut with a five-minute appearance at Vancouver.
That was followed by his home debut against SKC.
“I just had to bring some energy,” he said. “That’s what Sigi’s focus for me was: to come out there and bring energy to bring up the level of play maybe a little bit. So I tried to do that.”
The brief appearance marked the completion of a circle for Jones. He remembered his days watching the USL Sounders and favorite player Roger Levesque, who now holds an executive position with the club and whom Jones has gotten to know personally.
And just as Levesque was Jones’ favorite Sounder, Jones understands that somewhere in the crowd of 40,653 were other young fans who consider him their favorite Sounder and who dream of one day becoming Sounders themselves.
“Kids come up to me all the time that used to come to UW camps, Sounders Academy kids,” Jones said. “It feels good to be able to give back sometimes.”