Sounders FC

Newcomer White stirs excitement

renton – Professional teams generally put an optimistic spin on offseason moves.

But it sometimes takes some reading between the lines to tell which ones really excite them. Three days into Sounders FC preseason training, the club seems genuinely excited about its acquisition of forward O’Brian White.

“We’ve had O’Brian White on our radar for a few years,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said of the former University of Connecticut player during the offseason.

White, 25, was Soccer America’s player of the year as a college junior, has played for the Jamaica national team and was the fourth overall pick in 2009 by Toronto.

In two MLS seasons, White has started 14 games, scored four goals and made four assists for TFC.

Vancouver selected him when he was made available in the expansion draft. The Whitecaps sent him on to Seattle for allocation money.

“When you look at his production in Toronto, it’s been OK …,” Hanauer said. “We like what we see out of him, and we like the potential.”

White said this week that he considers himself fully recovered from a knee injury.

He showed something about his knee – and his desire – Thursday, when the Sounders went through fitness testing at the Seahawks’ training facility.

“To be very honest, we didn’t expect O’Brian White to do as well in the fitness test as he did,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “… He showed me a lot of heart and mentality.”

It wasn’t the first time White had impressed Schmid.

“I think in every game we have played (against Toronto) he has either scored or been goal-dangerous, which is what you want from a forward,” Schmid said. “He’s a big body. He’s got good size (6-foot-1), good speed. I think this club is going to have a lot of joy with O’Brian White before the day is over.”

White said it’s nice to be wanted.

“That’s one of the reasons I came out here early before preseason, to get a feel for what it’s like and get some training done from early on. They’re excited to have me, but I’m even more excited to be a part of this organization.”

ADDED TIME

Schmid was pleased with team fitness results. “Last year, we had 24 guys go through the fitness test, and nine were below the minimum mark that we sort of set,” he said. “This year I think that we had 31 guys go through the fitness, and five of them were minimum mark.” …The Sounders’ second annual Community Shield charity friendly will be played at 7 p.m. March 9 at Qwest Field against defending MLS Cup champion Colorado. Tickets ($10 adults, $5 children) go on sale Feb. 14.

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

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