Sounders FC

Harvard degree not a bad fall-back for new Sounders midfielder

Michael Fucito began work Monday in one of the few occupations where his new Harvard diploma is of little use to him: professional soccer.

“I would say a soccer brain is a lot different than a typical Harvard brain,” he said. “You’d love it to translate, but I don’t think it does as much as you’d think.”

Still, Fucito said he’s eager to put off the day when his new psychology degree is put to use. His first career goal is playing midfield for Seattle Sounders FC.

“This is what I’ve wanted to do forever,” he said. “Finding out that I was drafted back in January, it’s been a long time. I was anxious to finish school and get out here, so I’m glad to finally be here.”

The Sounders selected Fucito in the fourth and final round of the SuperDraft, after a senior season in which he led the Ivy League in total points and was named a second-team All-American.

He trained with the Sounders briefly during the preseason and then returned to New England. While finishing his class work there, he continued training with the Crimson and also with the New England Revolution of MLS.

He graduated Thursday, moved out of his room Friday, packed and got organized Saturday, flew to Puget Sound on Sunday and was on the Starfire Sports Complex pitch Monday, reminding coach Sigi Schmid of what the team saw in him on draft day.

“He’s a little bit different in terms of the players we have because he’s left-footed,” Schmid said. “He’s got that low center of gravity; he’s pretty hard to knock off the ball at times. So we’ll see how he does, and obviously then we’ll make a decision.”

The Sounders can watch Fucito for two weeks. Then they must either sign him or make him available to other MLS teams through a waiver draft. If no other team grabs him, his MLS rights return to the Sounders.

Fucito hopes all that becomes moot.

“I think it will be a week or two before those decisions are made, but I’m hopeful,” he said. “... I’d like to come in and help any way that I can.”

Either way, Schmid seems confident that things will work out for Fucito.

“He’ll either make our team, or be elected president one day,” Schmid said. “We’re not sure which.”

Fredy and Freddie

Schmid said he had individual chats with stars Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg after the Sounders’ 1-0 loss at Chivas USA over the weekend.

Schmid said he met with Montero to explain why he was benched in the 65th minute of the game.

“Most players aren’t happy when they’re going to be replaced,” Schmid said. “That’s pretty standard. I know when I played I wasn’t too happy when I got subbed out. Whenever the sub card goes up you’re looking the other direction, so he’s trying to not look over there in case it’s your number. It was something we talked about after the game as a team. And I’ll be talking to them individually as well. But it is not an issue.”

The veteran coach also met with Ljungberg about an ongoing concern that the former English Premier League star spends too much time quarreling with referees.

“We need to concentrate, we need to focus on our game,” Schmid said. “I don’t want to talk about referees anymore. I don’t want to talk about them all this season. They’re out there and they’re doing their job. We need to do our job.”

Personnel update

Forward Nate Jaqua will miss San Jose’s visit to Qwest Field on Saturday due to red-card suspension, and defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado also will sit out after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season.

Defender Tyrone Marshall will return after serving his red-card suspension last week.

The availability of midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quadriceps) and Peter Vagenas (ankle) is unsettled. Vagenas was scheduled to hear from a doctor Monday afternoon, while Schmid said Alonso could return to training today.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blogs.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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