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Saturday, April 21, 2007 - Page updated at 02:01 AM

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2007 Sounders Season Preview | Kicking off rebuilding year

Special to The Seattle Times

Perhaps the biggest rebuilding job in franchise history led the Seattle Sounders on a worldwide talent search. But the biggest find of the offseason was right under their collective noses.

The Sounders hope that Adam West, a 20-year-old former University of Washington player, can anchor the club's defense despite his youth.

"I'm hoping he has a big impact," said Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, who coached West on the Emerald City FC under-17 and U-18 select squads. "I'm hoping he helps solidify our left back position. Adam can go forward in the attack and become involved in the offensive attack. He has a nice left foot.

"It just so happened Adam fell into our lap."

Poor grades will do that. So why did Schmetzer give him a second chance?

"What he told me was that school wasn't his deal," Schmetzer said. "He said he didn't put enough energy or effort into it. He was probably goofing off a little bit and made some bad decisions along the way."

Sounders at a glance


League: United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division. Two expansion teams, California Victory and Carolina Railhawks, replace Virginia Beach and Toronto in 12-team league.

Home field: Qwest Field (8,500 soccer capacity for East-side lower-bowl seating).

Last season: 11-13-4, first losing regular season in 13 years, and missed playoffs for second time in 13 years.

TV: Fox Soccer Channel — May 11 at Portland, 8 p.m.; June 15 at Carolina, 5 p.m.; July 27 at Vancouver, 8 p.m.; Comcast On-Demand — all 14 regular-season Sounders home matches are available 48 hours after each game ends.

Radio: None in English. All home games, plus road games May 11, May 26 and Aug. 18, will be on 1680 AM.

Internet: All matches streamed live via broadband video through www.USLLive.com; weekly video program on www.seattlesounders.net and www.youtube.com.

Tickets: Single — $13 for general admission; $18 for reserved seats. Six-game, season and youth packages available. Call the Sounders team office at (206) 622-3415 or Ticketmaster at (206) 628-0888.

Probable starters: Forwards — Josh Gardner, Andre Schmid. Midfielders — Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Leighton O'Brien, Santa Maria Rivera, Kevin Sakuda. Defenders — Adam West, Danny Jackson, Zach Scott, Noah Merl. Goalkeeper — Chris Eylander.

Sounders women: All home games at Tukwila's Starfire Sports Complex, beginning May 26 against Vancouver at 7 p.m. Regular season opens May 20 at Vancouver at 4 p.m.

Matt Massey

Schmetzer said he had a "heart-to-heart" with West, and came away convinced he understood his mistakes.

"He said he learned some lessons along the way and was very serious about doing this," Schmetzer said.

West likely will be in the starting lineup for the Sounders as they begin the 2007 United Soccer Leagues First Division season at 7 tonight at Swangard Stadium against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

West is by no means the only new player the Sounders are counting on to fill a need. Seattle, which missed the playoffs last year after winning the division championship in 2005, must replace star forwards Maykel Galindo and Cam Weaver. Galindo, a Cuban defector, made the jump to Major League Soccer with Chivas USA. Weaver, USL First Division's Rookie of the Year with league highs of 39 points and 18 goals in 2006, moved on to play for F.C. Haugesund, a First Division club in Norway.

That, along with other retirements and defections, left a void.

"We scoured the globe to find new players who can help us get back to the top of the USL First Division and win another championship," said Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer, who watched last year's club miss the playoffs for the second time in 13 years. "We all know that we didn't make the playoffs last season, and that wasn't very much fun.

"I'm a competitive guy, and we plan on not letting that happen again."

Veteran defender Danny Jackson is looking forward to seeing how the new players fit in.

"The pieces we were missing last year, we filled and there's some anticipation and excitement," he said. "There's a sense that we need to win something this year. It was disappointing last year."

Jackson said injuries and lack of cohesion contributed to Seattle's slow start in 2006 and its first losing regular season — 12-15-5 overall — since the franchise was reborn in 1994.

"We're far ahead of the game than we were at this point last year," Jackson said.

Seattle spent good money by USL First Division standards to land free-agent forwards Nathan Knox from the Minnesota Thunder and former Sounder Greg Howes from the Rochester Raging Rhinos.

Tacoma native Howes, the 2000 A-League Rookie of the Year for Seattle, won't join the team until the May 5 home opener against the Portland Timbers. He is coming off an indoor season with the Milwaukee Wave.

Knox, a native of New Zealand, led Minnesota with five goals last season.

Other significant signees are two players with MLS experience in forward Andre Schmid (New York Red Bulls) and midfielder Josh Gardner (Los Angeles Galaxy), and French midfielder Sebastien Le Toux, who is awaiting international clearance to play and a work visa.

Five key questions


1. Will the Sounders be able to replace the scoring by Cam Weaver last season? The 6-foot-4 forward from Kent set club records and led the league in scoring and goals as a rookie.

2. Can second-year goalkeeper Chris Eylander become one of the league's premier stoppers?

3. Will former Portland Timber Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar provide consistent playmaking and make up for the loss of C.J. Klaas and Andrew Gregor?

4. Can central defender Danny Jackson avoid injury and return as a healthy team leader?

5. Can Tacoma native and former Sounder Greg Howes return home in his eighth pro season and make a difference?

Matt Massey

Le Toux played for F.C. Lorient of the French First Division and was on trial with FC Dallas of MLS before landing in Seattle. Gardner hopes to use his stay in Seattle as a second chance to get back in MLS or as a steppingstone to Europe.

"We did our due diligence to get back to our winning ways," Schmetzer said.

Notes

• The Sounders' roster has an international flavor, with seven players born outside the United States. Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, who was signed away from the Timbers, and Santa Maria Rivera represent Mexico. Le Toux hails from France, Jackson from England, O'Brien from Ireland, Craig Tomlinson from Jamaica and Knox from New Zealand.

• The club added two assistant coaches — former Sounder Darren Sawatzky, who had 29 goals and 20 assists during his four-year Seattle career, and goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra. Midfielder Leighton O'Brien will serve as a player/coach.

• In his first five seasons, Schmetzer owns a .614 win percentage with a 93-53-30 overall record. Schmetzer is 74-41-25 in league matches for a .618 win percentage.

• Sounders veteran forward Roger Levesque will miss tonight's game as a result of receiving two yellow cards and an ejection in the 2006 finale.


Sounders roster
No. Name Pos Ht Wt Age College Years pro*
1 Ben Dragavon GK 6-1 195 23 W. Washington 2 (2)
2 Noah Merl D 6-1 175 23 California 2 (2)
3 Jacob Besagno D 6-2 185 23 Seattle U. 3 (3)
4 Danny Jackson D 6-0 185 27 North Carolina 6 (5)
5 Andre Schmid F 6-4 200 24 St. John's 2 (1)
6 Nate Boyden MF 6-0 175 24 UC Santa Barbara 2 (2)
7 Leighton O'Brien MF 5-10 160 31 San Diego 10 (5)
8 Sebastien Le Toux MF 6-0 155 23 Wrennes Acad. (France) 3 (1)
9 Craig Tomlinson F 5-9 160 34 Ohio State 11 (8)
10 Santa Maria Rivera MF 5-10 150 25 Seattle U. 2 (2)
11 Nathan Knox F 6-2 180 25 Macalester College 4 (1)
12 Gabe Sturm D 5-6 150 25 San Francisco 3 (3)
14 Colin Rigby F 6-2 180 22 Seattle Pacific R (R)
15 Kevin Sakuda MF 6-0 170 26 Duke 5 (5)
16 Kenji Treschuk MF-D 5-10 180 24 Penn State R (R)
17 Zach Scott D 5-11 175 26 Gonzaga 6 (6)
18 Roger Levesque F 6-2 174 26 Stanford 5 (5)
20 Greg Howes F 6-0 185 30 Oregon State 8 (2)
21 Adam West MF-D 6-0 175 20 Washington R (R)
22 Chris Eylander GK 6-1 170 23 Washington 2 (2)
31 Josh Gardner MF 5-11 162 24 Cincinnati 4 (1)
77 Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar MF-F 5-11 160 30 Fresno State 6 (1)
* years with Sounders in parentheses


Sounders schedule

April 21 at Vancouver Whitecaps 7 p.m.

April 27 at Miami FC 5 p.m.

April 29 at Puerto Rico Islanders 2 p.m.

May 5 Portland Timbers 7 p.m.

May 6 Seattle U. at F. Field in Kent 4 p.m.

May 11 at Portland Timbers* 8 p.m.

May 12 Vancouver Whitecaps 7 p.m.

May 18 Rochester Raging Rhinos 7:30 p.m.

May 20 at Montreal Impact 1 p.m.

May 23 Carolina Railhawks 7 p.m.

May 26 at California Victory 7 p.m.

June 2 Chivas USA (Exh.) 7 p.m.

June 7 at Charleston Battery 4:30 p.m.

June 9 at Atlanta Silverbacks 4:55 p.m.

June 15 at Carolina Railhawks 5 p.m.

June 23 Montreal Impact 7 p.m.

June 28 Miami FC 7 p.m.

July 3 at Rochester R. Rhinos 4:35 p.m.

July 13 Vancouver Whitecaps 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. Tacoma FC at Starfire 11 a.m.

July 21 at Rochester R. Rhinos 4:35 p.m.

July 27 at Vancouver Whitecaps 8 p.m.

Aug. 1 Portland Timbers 7 p.m.

Aug. 4 Puerto Rico Islanders 7 p.m.

Aug. 11 Minnesota Thunder 7 p.m.

Aug. 18 at California Victory 7 p.m.

Aug. 22 Atlanta Silverbacks 7 p.m.

Aug. 25 Charleston Battery 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Minnesota Thunder 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 6 California Victory 7 p.m.

Sept. 9 at Minnesota Thunder 3:05 p.m.

* Match televised on Fox Soccer Channel.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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