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Originally published February 26, 2012 at 7:26 PM | Page modified February 26, 2012 at 8:39 PM

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Sounders FC returns home, but several players sit out with illness

Sounders FC returned to action a little short-handed Sunday, the team's first local practice since Feb. 10. Eight players were out sick after returning from Mexico.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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TUKWILA — After two weeks of travel, training games and other preseason preparation in Florida and Mexico, the Sounders returned to practice here Sunday.

Most of them did, at least.

Following a couple of days off, eight players and assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson were out sick. The bug, which is contagious, was believed to have hit the team after a team meal in Mexico.

"We're trying to be cautious with the whole thing because we don't want it to spread further," said coach Sigi Schmid at the Starfire Sports Campus. "If somebody had some symptoms, we basically told them to stay at home so they wouldn't get other guys on the team sick."

Schmid said some players, coaches and staff have already recovered from the illness, which requires about a 24- to 48-hour recovery. Those not in action Sunday included goalkeeper Andrew Weber; defenders Andrew Duran, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni; and midfielders Alex Caskey, Cordell Cato, Roger Levesque and Christian Sivebaek.

There were a couple of other roster notes: Honduran trialist Harlinton Gutierres is no longer with the team and defender/midfielder Amadou Sanyang, who remains under contract, has joined the Chicago Fire for a tryout.

With the addition of another trialist, the camp roster stands at 32. The Sounders plan to eventually carry around 30, depending on some injury situations.

Sunday also marked the first practice in Seattle for the team's newest addition, forward Eddie Johnson, acquired in a trade Feb. 17.

"This being my 10th year as a professional, and (having traveled) around the world, one thing I can say about the team here in Seattle is from the first day I arrived ... the team has made me feel very welcome," said Johnson, who trained mostly on the side as he recovers from a minor hamstring injury.

Schmid said the team, with all of its moving pieces, has integrated itself nicely.

"The new faces have adapted well to each other," the coach said. "There's an understanding that's developing, so I've been happy."

Fletcher settles in

New Sounders FC play-by-play man Ross Fletcher took in his first practice and met players, coaches, team staff and media. His first on-air action will be Wednesday in a preseason special during a 7 p.m. game against Mexico's Jaguares de Chiapas. The broadcast will feature interviews and intermittent game coverage.

Fletcher's first game call will be on radio for the Sounders' March 7 CONCACAF Champions League game against Mexico's Santos Laguna. His first TV broadcast is March 17 for Seattle's MLS opener against Toronto FC.

Sounders officials "have done everything that I could possibly want to help me feel settled, to get in, to get acclimatized to the city itself and the club," said Fletcher. "Everything has made the transition from the UK very, very easy."

Fletcher will meet his broadcaster partner, retired goalkeeper Kasey Keller, on Monday. Keller has been in Hawaii the past few days working for ESPN.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com.

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