Seattle Sounders FC isn’t just made up of soccer players, it’s made of soccer fans. And like soccer fans around the globe, they were buzzing Wednesday about the United States’ 2-0 win over top-ranked Spain. “It’s a huge win,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “… From the standpoint of confidence and what it means to your team and your team spirit, it’s invaluable. There’s nothing you can re-create at training that’s going to give that kind of adrenaline rush to your team.”
Spain dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard, leading in shots, 18-9; shots on goal, 8-2; and corner kicks, 14-3.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made eight saves, and Sounders keeper Kasey Keller – a veteran of 102 U.S. national team appearances – could relate.
“You’re just hoping that the ball comes somewhere where you can do something about it,” Keller said. “You’re hoping that guys make tackles. You’re hoping that at some stage they kind of clean it up. It was a bit lopsided, but I thought the guys defended very, very well. And if you’re going to beat a team like Spain, you’re going to need your goalkeeper to make some saves.”
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As the Sounders returned to practice Wednesday after three days off, two other players had their own national team stories to tell.
Forward Jarrod Smith had just returned from Confederations Cup duty with the national team of New Zealand, his native country.
“It was a good time, good experience,” Smith said. “I didn’t get any playing time during the tournament, which was a bit rough for me. But obviously that’s in the coach’s hand. I’m coming back from injury and haven’t played a lot this year, so to expect to come right in and play a lot is a bit optimistic, I guess. But I still got to be part of it, and to get that kind of experience and to be alongside those kind of players is something I’ll never forget.”
Smith also hasn’t yet made his Sounders’ debut but said he is ready and fully recovered from a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Sounders defender Tyrone Marshall has been called up to join the Jamaica national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup competition, which begins July 3.
“It’s one of those feelings that’s overwhelming sometimes when you don the national team jersey, and all this pride, and there’s a lot of people you’re representing and you always want to go out and play well,” Marshall said. “It’s one of those things that you feel great and proud of when you step out on that pitch.”
Price of fame
Another topic of Sounders camp Wednesday was defender Taylor Graham’s appearance on “The Price is Right,” hosted by Sounders minority owner Drew Carey.
Graham appeared in his rave green Sounders uniform and spoke several times as part of a showcase including a trip on private jet to Seattle, a four-night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel, land and air tours of the city, meals, spending money, and luxury seats for the Sounders’ Aug. 29 match with Toronto.
“I was lucky that today was the first day that we’ve trained in three or four days; so a lot of guys, I think it kind of slipped their mind,” Graham said. “But I’m sure someone will track down a copy. I think people are really happy that they have that under their belt so they can hold it against me whenever they want. I’ll be the first to admit I was terrible.”
The contestant estimated the trip’s cost at $24,450, and won by staying just under the actual cost of $25,235.
“I thought he was actually high with that,” Schmid said. “But I guess the jet plane ride up is a big part of that equation.”
Schmid said the three days off should have been good for his team’s physical and mental health. He said Freddie Ljungberg, who missed the draw at New York on Saturday due to a sore hamstring, should be ready for Colorado’s visit on Sunday. Schmid also said Smith and Zack Scott are fit to play, and he cited Graham and reserve keeper Chris Eylander as making progress.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808