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Originally published June 25, 2011 at 6:43 PM | Page modified June 25, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Sounders FC midfielder Carrasco meets friendly foe against New England

Servando Carrasco and AJ Soares have known each other for almost 15 years. As professionals, that close friendship will fade as soon as their teams kick off at 1 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sunday

New England @ Sounders FC,

1 p.m., KONG

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TUKWILA — Best friends will become rivals for 90 minutes Sunday.

Servando Carrasco and AJ Soares — 22-year-old MLS rookies for Sounders FC and the New England Revolution, respectively — have known each other for almost 15 years. Growing up, they played together in the San Diego Surf Soccer Club and later were college teammates for four years at California.

As professionals, that close friendship will fade as soon as their teams kick off at 1 p.m. at CenturyLink Field.

"Once the first whistle is blown you forget about those relationships," said Carrasco. "You're focused on the task ahead, and that's getting three points. I'm sure he has the same mentality coming here. You always want to win no matter who you're playing against."

Seattle coach Sigi Schmid thinks the two will be highly motivated.

"It comes down to what I've said before: 'You don't mind losing to enemies. You don't want to lose to friends,' " Schmid said.

But the weekend will be special beyond this new chapter in Carrasco's and Soares' personal relationship. Both players' families will also be in town.

"It's a huge event," said Carrasco, a midfielder.

"Our families are like one big family," said Soares in a telephone interview Thursday.

And like with all families there have been ups and downs. The most difficult time came in the fall of 2006. After high-school graduation, Carrasco was training at a soccer academy in Buenos Aires when he learned his mother, Gloria, had stage-three breast cancer.

The Soares family was there for support.

AJ, who was committed to Cal, helped guide Carrasco to Berkeley. Lynn Soares, AJ's mother, was also there to provide for Gloria, who is healthy now.

"It was unbelievable," said Servando Carrasco of the support.

AJ Soares, a defender, said the trying times brought the families closer, and especially strengthened his friendship with Carrasco. Soares said they talk on the phone about once a week.

"Servando is a really strong character," Soares said. "He's got the best mental strength of anyone I know. As much as I supported him, he's supported me tenfold. At that time, I just tried to be there for him."

Soares has played nearly every minute this season, save for a red card he earned in an April 6 game against Vancouver and the subsequent suspension. Carrasco has likewise been Sounders FC's most productive rookie (starting four of his eight games played .

"We approach the game similarly and put everything out on the field," said Soares, who was one of New England's six nominees for this summer's MLS All-Star Game. "I think that's why we've both been successful so far in our careers, especially our rookie years."

NOTES

• Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans (hamstring) will be a game-time decision.

Alonso and defender Leo Gonzalez are each suspended Sunday due to yellow-card accumulation.

• New England (3-7-6) is winless in its past six games. Seattle (7-4-7) is undefeated in five matches, including wins in its past two. The Revolution holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage.

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