Dream is still alive for three hopefuls trying to earn a spot on the Sounders
Three hundred hopefuls took part in Sounders Super Search, an open tryout that will become a reality TV show early next year, for the chance to become one of three finalists that will compete for a roster spot on the new Major League Soccer team.
Seattle Times staff reporter
TUKWILA — They came — 300 strong from as far away as Massachusetts and Kentucky — to chase a dream.
Only three took the next step toward realizing their dream of making a Major League Soccer team after Saturday's Sounders Super Search open tryout at Starfire Sports Complex.
The lucky trio — Erik Sterling, a former player at Decatur High School in Federal Way; Oliver Wellman, a former player at Western Washington University; and Gareth Waite of Orinda, Calif. — move on to the final round of players vying for a roster spot with Sounders FC. Sterling is 25, while Wellman and Waite are 22.
They join three finalists from Sounders FC's two other open tryouts, last week in Spokane and next week in Yakima, for the nine-man competition to win a place on the team that will be televised on KING-TV on Feb. 1.
"It feels like 18 years of hard work, dedication," Sterling said. "I took some time off from soccer, did other things, kind of had some troubles but I feel like this is my last go."
The midfielder, who is playing in a men's league and coaches youth soccer, scored on a long shot into the far corner of the net during the final scrimmage. Sterling felt the goal landed him in the final three but still was surprised when his name was announced.
"I gave my all," Sterling said.
So did so many others. But Sounders FC camp director Amy Carnell's eight-minute sprint of a fitness drill was what weeded out the contenders and pretenders during the first round.
Players were asked to do a series of cardio exercises with barely a pause between each. First was tapping the top of the ball with both feet, alternating from one to the other. Then there were push-ups over the ball, stomach crunches with the ball between the ankles and lateral jumps over the ball. Finally came "Sounders jumps," where players leapt while spreading their legs and shouting "Sounders!" as loud as they could with what wind they had.
"If you can't last eight minutes, how are you going to last 90?" the sergeant-like Carnell asked each group, referring to the length of a pro soccer game.
The field was narrowed to 40 after about 90 minutes, with coaches choosing those who survived the first cut by a simple yea-or-nay vote. That was cut to 22 for the final 11-on-11 scrimmage.
Joel Ruiz, a 25-year-old from Kirkland, and two of his buddies were among those sent home in the first wave of cuts. They were happy to have had the opportunity to try out.
"There were some people that deserved to be here and others, like me, that were completely lost and should have stayed home and slept," Ruiz said.
Said Tim Blakely, a 24-year-old from Seattle: "It's great that they're having these tryouts. It gets everybody else involved, and you kind of connect a little more with the team."
Which is exactly why majority owner Joe Roth suggested the tryouts, which are based on a reality show on Spanish-language TV where the winner gets a contract with Chivas USA, another MLS team.
"We have a really incredible ownership group," said Darren Sawatzky, Sounders FC director of youth development, who ran the tryout. "They understand marketing. They understand the excitement of finding that diamond in the rough."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
Sounders lose to another expansion team
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