Midfielder Dawyne “Rickie” Smith began training with Seattle Sounders FC about 10 weeks after being selected in the Major League Soccer waiver draft on June 6.
Since that time, Smith has been playing with the USL Pittsburgh Riverhounds and getting his master’s degree in business education at Bethel University (Tennessee).
He made his first appearance in a Sounders uniform Sunday in the Reserve League win against Los Angeles.
“Just a euphoric experience,” he called it Thursday, with a light Jamaican accent. “Just to see the guys, their professionalism, their organization. It’s just very much tremendous.
“These are the things you dream about. These are the guys you watch day in, day out on the television. And to be actually rubbing shoulders with them – those guys that are showing you the same level of respect – makes you feel much better about your chances and moving forward into the professional level.”
Smith, 24, had been taken by the New England Revolution with the third overall pick in the 2012 supplemental draft. He said he wasn’t sure what went wrong in New England, but a deal wasn’t struck. He hasn’t signed a contract with Seattle yet, either, but coach Sigi Schmid said there is one spot open on the roster if things work out.
“We had seen him when we had our (scouting) combine in Vegas,” Schmid said. “We sort of liked him. He had the opportunity to play a little bit in USL. His team – Pittsburgh – was basically eliminated from the playoffs, so now we have a chance to look at him, and we can make a decision.”
Smith said he can play anywhere in midfield but is most comfortable on the right or left. He added that he has been made to feel comfortable in other ways, too.
“The coaches and the players welcomed me with open arms – ‘Rickie, just be yourself’ – because I was a part of the closed combine in December, and I think I did pretty much well,” he said. “And they just told me to be myself, and that’s who I can always be. If they see anything that needs fine-tuning – as far as it makes me a better player to help the team – then it works.”
Smith was one of two selections by the Sounders in the waiver draft. The other, defender Daniel Steres, had originally been taken by Chivas USA with the 28th overall pick in the supplemental draft. He arrived in Seattle ahead of Smith and has played with the reserves – with varying results.
“He’s a young player who we knew was going to take some time in developing, and the reserve matches are important to him and are going to continue to be important,” Schmid said. “He’s a pretty safe passer of the ball out of the back. He’s a decent player in the air – he’s a good header. And he just now needs to be a little more concentrated and a little quicker in the right moments.”
At age 21 and just months out of San Diego State, Steres thinks any game experience will be good for his career development.
“Just to go from the speed of college and get into the speed of professionals, it’s a good starting block,” he said. “I’m always reaching to try to get that spot on the first team, get in the 18, and move from there. I’m taking the steps to get there, and reserves has definitely been very helpful.”
The Sounders will train at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila this morning, and fly out in the afternoon for their Saturday night match at Chivas USA in Carson, Calif. … With midfielder Andy Rose (ribs) out for this weekend, Schmid said possible replacements are Alex Caskey, Brad Evans or Servando Carrasco. … Rookie defender Andrew Duran underwent surgery Wednesday to repair the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his left email@example.com 253-597-8808