Hinds photo courtesy Nashville SC/Major League Soccer
Yesterday, Nashville SC traded for Seattle Sounders defender Nick Hinds. The 23-year old has played the entirety of his professional career with Tacoma Defiance (f/k/a Seattle Sounders II), so I caught up with Jeremiah Oshan of Sounder at Heart to learn what fans of the Boys in Gold can expect.
For Club and Country: What sort of player should NSC fans expect to see out of Hinds? Defense-first, get involved in the attack, balanced?
Jeremiah Oshan: Hinds was a converted winger, so getting into the attack is definitely a big part of his game. He can get up and down the line well but I think defense is probably where he’s struggled the most. I’d also say that given his talent set, his relative lack of offensive production also hurt him.
FCAC: What are some of the things that prevented him from having a bigger role or truly breaking into the first team with the Sounders?
JO: As far as not breaking into the first team, I think a big part of that is the Sounders have been pretty well stocked at LB for the last few years. Currently, Hinds is blocked by Nouhou and Brad Smith and he’s competing for minutes with Alex Villanueva at the Defiance, a player five years his junior. Hinds is clearly talented but I think he was just sort of squeezed at both ends of the roster.
FCAC: As you noted on Sounder at Heart, he sort of dropped out of the Defiance rotation to close out the year. Was that largely because the organization didn’t see a future with him in the long run, or because his performances were actively poor for Tacoma?
JO: That’s hard to say. I think he and the Sounders didn’t quite see eye to eye on his development and that seems to have come to a head last year. The most charitable read of the situation is that at 23 years old, the Sounders just didn’t feel it was right to hold onto him while not being able to offer him a clear path.
FCAC: On that note, The Defiance has been pretty bad on the pitch, but very good at developing talent. How has he developed or added to his game (independent of the team’s results) over the past three years?
JO: To be entirely honest, I think that’s part of the problem. He joined the Defiance in 2018 as a winger trying to become a left back and I’m not sure how much he’s evolved from that. The Defiance’s struggles have been due in large part to their defense and he was one of the relative veterans. He’s clearly a very talented player, but it remains to be seen if he has a position at the MLS level. He’s not shown himself to be a great defensive left back nor has he shown enough attacking ability to warrant playing time as a winger.
FCAC: This is the second Homegrown Nashville has picked up from Seattle in the past six months or so. How much does the organization value developing players for trade/transfer value (versus playing for the first team), or is it just sort of a happy coincidence than NSC was able to make a pair of trades like this?
JO: I think the primary goal is still to produce players for the first team, but you’re right that there are almost as many examples of the Sounders moving academy products on as there are of them carving out meaningful minutes with the first team. I think that also speaks to the challenge academy kids face in Seattle, who have perpetually been in win-now mode for the entirety of their MLS existence. They’re perfectly happy to go out and bring in high quality players. That said, I think the Sounders are taking a bit of an all-of-the-above approach, which is to say while they’d like to stock the team with academy kids they aren’t going to let that stop them from being open minded.
Many thanks to Jeremiah for his local expertise. Hit up Sounder at Heart for all your SSFC needs!