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Originally published September 4, 2012 at 8:03 PM | Page modified September 5, 2012 at 5:07 PM

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Sounders FC's Steve Zakuani shows flashes of star potential in return to starting lineup

Exactly 500 days passed between starts for Sounders FC's Steve Zakuani due to a devastating leg injury. The midfielder's return to the starting lineup Sunday was a productive one, as well, with an assist on Seattle's lone goal.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Zakuani timeline

Exactly 500 days passed between Steve Zakuani's leg injury and his next MLS start:

April 22, 2011 Suffers double leg fracture in Colorado

April 28, 2011 Rapids' Brian Mullan suspended MLS-record 10 games for tackle

June 10, 2011 Gives first interview with media, says he's forgiven Mullan

Nov. 7, 2011 Reveals he had serious condition called compartment syndrome

Jan. 20, 2012 Participates in full practice when training camp opens

April 1, 2012 Plays against opposition in training game vs. Gonzaga

June 1, 2012 Earns first MLS action in reserve game vs. Vancouver

June 20, 2012 On bench for MLS regular season game vs. Sporting KC

July 7, 2012 Makes MLS return in final minutes of game vs. Colorado

Aug. 12, 2012 Plays first 90-minute game with reserves at San Jose

Aug. 19, 2012 Scores twice in reserve game vs. LA Galaxy

Sunday Starts league game at FC Dallas, earns first assist since April 16, 2011

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The final checkmark.

That's how Sounders FC's Steve Zakuani referred to his first MLS start after a grueling recovery from a broken leg and serious complications. Exactly 500 days passed from the injury on April 22, 2011, to Sunday's game at FC Dallas.

"I've been waiting," Zakuani told the team website. "I've been ready ... (The injury) is behind me now. That was the final check, and now I'm good."

A milestone in the recovery process? Sure. But it was also a productive return, as the 24-year-old recorded an assist on Seattle's lone goal in the 1-1 tie.

The play started in the 20th minute when Zakuani burned Dallas defender Zach Loyd on the left side — showcasing his trademark speed of old — and sent a perfect pass across the face of the goal to Mauro Rosales for the tap-in goal.

For Sounders fans, it was a glimpse of the player on the fast track to stardom before the injury.

"It was great to see him back with the team and on a good level," Rosales said. "He was working very hard to come back, and you could see the frustration with him a few months ago when he couldn't be the best player that he really wanted to be ... We're very happy for him."

Zakuani played 65 minutes before his exit Sunday and narrowly missed a scoring chance for a go-ahead goal just before his substitution. The key to continued playing time will be more consistency and improved fitness.

"Steve (showed) that he still has that explosion, the ability to beat people," said coach Sigi Schmid, who lauded Zakuani's assist as "tremendous."

"As he gains confidence, hopefully those kinds of opportunities will occur more often in the game. He's shown that he can still do it."

High-profile

new arrival

Eidur Gudjohnsen, formerly of Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona, will join Sounders FC for a tryout this week, the team confirmed Tuesday. The Icelandic forward/midfielder is a free agent who most recently played for AEK Athens in Greece.

Even though the summer transfer window has closed, the Sounders could sign Gudjohnsen because he's out of contract. The MLS roster freeze is Sept. 15.

Gudjohnsen, 33, has been to Seattle before. He scored for Chelsea in a 4-2 exhibition against Celtic FC of Scotland in 2004 and also played for Barcelona in a 4-0 win against the Sounders in 2009.

Notes

• Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is listed as probable on the injury report after leaving Sunday's game with a head injury. Midfielder Andy Rose, who suffered a cracked rib last month, has been upgraded to probable.

• Forward Fredy Montero finished runner-up in MLS player of month voting after scoring six goals and adding an assist as Seattle earned a 3-1 league record in August. The award went to Montreal midfielder Patrice Bernier, who had three goals and three assists for the 4-0 Impact. An award eluded Montero last week, too, as he became the first player this season not to be named MLS player of week after scoring a hat trick.

• Sounders FC broadcaster Kasey Keller tweeted Tuesday that he will throw out the first pitch at Wednesday's Mariners game.

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

On Twitter @joshuamayers

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