How can you hate them? Sounders' rivals feature old friends
Former Seattle fan favorites are playing for Cascadia rivals in Vancouver and Portland. The Sounders visit Sebastien Le Toux and the Whitecaps at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Vancouver, 2 p.m., KONG
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TUKWILA — First, Sebastien Le Toux was traded to Vancouver.
Then, Mike Fucito was traded to Portland.
So in the past five months, two former Sounders FC fan favorites joined Seattle's oldest rivals.
"We don't like those guys now," said coach Sigi Schmid, with a laugh.
The surprising transactions not only resonated on the local scene with fans and ex-teammates, but they changed the dynamic of the Sounders' storied Cascadia rivalries, which date to the 1970s and the old North American Soccer League.
Seattle will face Le Toux as a Whitecap for the first time in an MLS game at 2 p.m. Saturday at BC Place.
"It's actually really cool that we were teammates and now we're rivals," said defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado through an interpreter.
Le Toux was acquired by Vancouver in January after spending two years in Philadelphia, where he scored 25 goals and was a two-time MLS All-Star. The Frenchman joined the USL Sounders in 2007 and was the team's first signing upon the leap to MLS before his exit after one season through the expansion draft.
Fucito went to Portland in April by way of expansion Montreal, which had acquired the forward in a preseason trade with Seattle. He was drafted by the Sounders in the fourth round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and particularly shined in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Both became beloved here for their tireless work ethic.
According to Schmid, if former Sounders are going to join Seattle's rivals, it will likely have to be through another MLS team.
"It probably won't happen as often where you see players going from our team to Portland or Portland to our team, and so forth," the coach said.
And once the ball is kicked off, those pre-existing relationships disappear.
"You have a good friend there, but it doesn't change anything," said forward Fredy Montero. "You just want to beat them and score goals and win, no matter what."
Alan Hinton, a broadcast analyst for Sounders FC and former NASL coach in Seattle and Vancouver, said trades and player movement — and the subsequent side stories — are "the backbone of the game."
"But there won't be any friendship once the game starts," Hinton added. "I do think it adds that little bit to the excitement of the game when an ex-player, a popular player here is playing against us who can score goals. From (Le Toux's) point of view, he'd like nothing better than to score the game-winning goal against the Sounders."
• A Sept. 23 home game against San Jose has been rescheduled for Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. to accommodate setup for a "Monday Night Football" game on Sept. 24 between the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. Kickoff for an Aug. 5 home game against Los Angeles has moved up an hour to 6 p.m. at the request of ESPN (the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2).
• Defender Leo Gonzalez has been ruled out of Saturday's game with a quad injury. Also expected to miss the game are goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (hip), midfielder Brad Evans (calf) and defender Patrick Ianni (back).
• The final seven games of the Sounders Women's regular season will be aired on KKNW 1150-AM radio, the W-League team announced Thursday. Additionally, four "Sounders Women Weekly" shows will be broadcast on the station (June 22, June 29, July 6 and July 13 from 4-5 p.m.).
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.