Sounders FC

It’s back to the business of MLS for Sounders

After a week free to be soccer fans, the Seattle Sounders came together again Sunday as a soccer team.

The club trained at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila preparing for its return to Major League Soccer play Sunday at Philadelphia. It was the club’s first practice after an eight-day World Cup break, which followed a June 10 loss to D.C. United that dropped Seattle to 4-6-3 on the season.

“It was good for us get our minds away from it, just to separate a little bit, not see each other, get your mind off the game for a little while,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “… The attitude at training was really good. I thought we were sharp.”

Schmid and many of his coaches and players spent much of their free time watching World Cup games on TV.

Steve Zakuani returned home to London in time to see the United States’ draw with England in their first game of group play.

“I tried to tell guys that the U.S. is a good team,” Zakuani said. “I think obviously the goal was a bad goal; but there were chances around that, so I think 1-1 was a fair result. Now, I think people there are kind of aware of America. Obviously, England isn’t doing too good, so you can imagine what that’s like. It’s crazy. I’m happy to get out of there.”

That “bad goal” came when the U.S. team’s Clint Dempsey sent a soft, bounding shot at England goalkeeper Robert Green, who let it slip past him into the goal.

Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller watched the blunder along with other fans at a public gathering in Tacoma. And even though he was pulling for the United States, he empathized with Green.

“I really feel sorry for Mr. Green, and to think that now that’s his World Cup experience and is going to be in his mind for the rest of his life,” Keller said. “He’s going to have many more seasons as a pro and have a lot of great games, but on that stage at that time, it’s not a fun position to be in, that’s for sure.”

General manager Adrian Hanauer remains in South Africa, where this morning he will watch the Chile-Switzerland match and Swiss striker Blaise Nkufo, who will join the Sounders next month.

Hanauer’s trip to South Africa is a mixture of work and pleasure. He planned to visit a wildlife reserve, attend all of the U.S. games, and scout some players who could be signed when the next international transfer window opens July 15.

HEALTH UPDATES

Forward Nate Jaqua (abdomen) participated in all training drills Sunday and appears on schedule to make his season debut at Philadelphia. Schmid said midfielder Peter Vagenas (quadriceps) also is ready. Defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso did some work Sunday but may need more time to heal. Only forward Michael Fucito (knee) is certainly out.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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