Sounders FC watches, awaits Swiss scorer Blaise Nkufo
Switzerland's Blaise Nkufo could be a big boost for Sounders FC's offense after he plays in the World Cup for his country.
Seattle Times staff reporter
TUKWILA — Many members of the Sounders FC will admittedly be internally divided when watching Blaise Nkufo represent Switzerland in the FIFA World Cup.
The supportive side wants to root for the Sounder-to-be.
The slightly-selfish side wants Nkufo in town as soon as possible.
"It's mixed emotions, really," said team broadcaster Arlo White, who will be in South Africa calling games for the BBC. "Having met him, he seems like such a nice guy — a very intelligent, thoughtful individual who's going to be a great ambassador for this club. But a small part of me wants him to go out in the first round so he gets here right away."
Ultimately, it will be all cheers for Nkufo, the only Sounders FC representation on the field for the tournament. The countdown to see him in rave green will have to wait a few more weeks.
Nkufo, 35, won't be eligible to play for Seattle until July 15, when the MLS summer-transfer window opens.
Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said Nkufo will need some time off after the World Cup and then more time in training to get used to his new team before he can play.
"All that is dependent on when exactly Switzerland exits the World Cup," Schmid said, "but it's something that we're in contact with him on and something we've already spoken about before the tournament, and he understands. He needs some time with his family, he needs a little bit of a break after the World Cup, but he's also very committed to being ready to play for us as soon as possible."
Until then, Nkufo's future family will be watching his games as time allows — two of Switzerland's group-stage games start at 7 a.m. PDT, the other at 11:30 a.m. — and counting the days to get him.
"The most important thing when you get new players is to train with the person, and feel where he goes and where he runs," said midfielder Freddie Ljungberg.
So far the run has been good for the 6-foot-2 Nkufo. He has scored more than 200 goals for club and country, and most recently led Dutch club FC Twente to a league championship.
The goal-scoring prowess has already made Nkufo a fan favorite and the anticipated solution to an inconsistent offense. Nkufo could join Seattle as a second designated-player — a decision that the team hasn't announced yet, but has become an option in MLS since his March signing.
For now, though, Nkufo's concerns are with the Swiss national team.
And despite the possibility of injury and fatigue from playing two league seasons in Holland and the United States, Schmid hopes he'll be getting an inspired goal scorer after the World Cup.
"You hope he plays well," Schmid said, "because when a player is in good form, and when he comes off a competition where his team has done well, it fills him with a lot of confidence and happiness — and that carries over."
Maybe to another trophy-winning season and a playoff run in Seattle.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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