The Seattle Sounders could have a new international on their backline. But it isn’t an inborn player coming in via the transfer market.
Rather, it is defender Shane O’Neill, who could be trending towards joining Ireland’s national team.
The 27-year old O’Neill, who has six appearances and four starts so far this season for the Sounders, has represented the United States at both the U20 and the U23 level. But with no senior call-ups or any looking likely, O’Neill could be looking for greener pastures.
The green, that is, of Ireland.
According to a source close to the situation, O’Neill has expressed interest to the Irish Football Association (FA) in filing a one-time switch. Born in Ireland, O’Neill is still eligible for his birthland as he isn’t cap-tied to the United States.
He has previously stated his willingness to switch to the Irish FA in the past.
The source tells FanSided’s ‘MLS Multiplex’ that O’Neill, a regular contributor with the Seattle Sounders since last season, has been told he will be scouted by the Irish FA in the coming weeks. O’Neill is versatile, capable of playing central defense or as a No. 6 in the midfield.
O’Neill came up through the academy system of the Colorado Rapids before making a move to Europe in 2015, a spell that included a successful two seasons in Holland with NAC Breda. He moved back to MLS in 2018 when he joined Orlando City before moving to the Seattle Sounders last season.
Since his Sounders debut last year, he has 24 appearances with 17 starts, logging 1,671 minutes.
Across eight seasons in MLS, including 2012 when he made his professional debut (a single appearance for four minutes), O’Neill has 100 appearances with 86 starts, spanning 8,003 minutes played. He has one goal, which came in 2014.
On the international level, O’Neill was twice called up by former United States head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to national team camps, once in 2014 and another time in 2015. Neither time did he step on the field for the United States.
This past Sunday, the Sounders secured a 1-1 tie against Atlanta United to continue their hot start to the MLS season. The Sounders are currently atop MLS.