For all but four Seattle Sounders, this All-Star break really will provide a pause in a Major League Soccer season that has 18 league games behind and 12 regular season games ahead.
The Sounders had Sunday off after their scoreless draw with Chicago on Saturday. They’re off today too; and again Tuesday.
“It’s a long season,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “You start February 1st, and you’re going to the end of October. That’s a long time straight through. … We’ve always tried to find a few breaks. So with us (having played) on Saturday and not playing until the following Sunday, the All-Star Game really had nothing to do with it. We felt it was a good time to give them a little (bit) of a break. The All-Stars are actually the ones that lose out on it.”
Four members of the Sounders were selected as All-Stars: goalkeeper Kasey Keller and midfielder Freddie Ljungberg were voted into the MLS First XI; forward Fredy Montero and defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado were selected by Dominic Kinnear, who will coach the MLS stars because his Houston Dynamo is at the top of the league table.
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“It’s good (for Sounders FC) because two of them got selected by Dominic afterwards and two got voted in,” Schmid said. “(Kinnear) selecting two obviously means when he looks around the league, as a coach he has some respect for what we’re doing and what our players have done.”
The All-Stars will gather in Utah today for two days of training and media events. They will kick off against Everton of the English Premier League at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, home of Real Salt Lake.
The four selected Sounders all expressed their appreciation for the honor, although Ljungberg acknowledged some confusion about the all-star concept, which does not exist in most of the soccer-playing world.
Schmid thinks the rest of the world might have it right.
“I think the all-star concept is something the league has borrowed from the other (American) professional leagues,” he said. “I think (soccer players participating in) the national teams’ competition – the World Cup, CONCACAF and all the other competitions – they’re already all-stars in that regard. To a certain extent, I think it’s a little extra. … I don’t think anybody would be upset from a coaching standpoint if it didn’t exist.”
Schmid sounded as ready for a few days off as anyone.
“It’s just good to get away and focus on something else and just recharge your batteries,” he said. “My preferred midseason break would be probably about a month from now, going to Europe and watching games. I don’t know if my wife would be too excited about that, but that would be a good midseason break for me.”
Most Sounders will reunite as a team Wednesday for weight-training work. Then they will return to the practice pitch Thursday, preparing for the resumption of league play Sunday at San Jose.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808