What is likely to be a sign of things to come, two young players from Seattle Sounders The organization will be loaned to a European team, it was announced on Friday. Sounder at Heart independently confirmed that Alfonso Ocampo Chavez and Sota Kitahara have six-month loans to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden.
FK Pinzgau strengthens with 2 newcomers
Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (19) and Sotha Leo Kitahara (18) join from the MLS side @SoundersFC!
Both have experience with @TACdefiance and also played at the youth national level for the United States.
– FC Pinzgau Saalfelden (@FCPSen) Jul 16, 2021
While sending a couple of teenagers to the Austrian third division squad may seem a bit random, FC Pinzgau is at least somewhat remarkable. Playing their home games in a picturesque stadium in the Alps, the club is run by a group of Americans who have created a fan ownership system. Athletic wrote an article about the team in 2019.
Among the group managing the team, there are former Real Salt Lake Vice President of Communications Trey Fitzgerald. Sounders’ sporting director Craig Weibel knows Fitzgerald well from their time at RSL and previously sent players to the Austrian team. Pinzgau is managed by Christian Siege, who had an extensive playing career in Europe that included almost 200 matches for Bavaria and 72 appearances for the German national team.
Ocampo-Chavez, 19, and Kitahara, 18, are in different places in their professional careers. Ocampo-Chavez signed for the first team in 2019 after posting many results for both Sounders Academy and Tacoma Defiance, but has struggled to find consistency in the past couple of seasons. Kitahara moved to Tacoma Defiance and slowly developed into a reliable center midfielder.
Sounders Grandmaster Garth Lagerway said long ago that the team is looking for opportunities to send players on loan, which they did earlier with Shandon Hopo and Trey Mewes this year.
Similar to these moves, the Ocampo-Chavez rent will likely open up one of the extra spots on the roster reserved for homebrew players.