I got to meet midfielder Dawyne "Rickie" Smith today, and he seems a very nice and interesting guy.
Smith was taken by the Sounders in the Waiver Draft in June, along with defender Daniel Steres. Steres has been training with the club for a while now, but Smith arrived recently and played made his debut with the Sounders Reserves over the weekend against LA -- although his debut got mostly overlooked in light of those two goals by Steve Zakuani and the debut of Mario Martinez.
So, here's part of the conversation today with Smith (who says either "Dawyne" or "Rickie" suits him fine.
On what he's been doing since the Waiver Draft: I way playing in the USL with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and I was finishing up my master’s as well (in business education at Bethel University).
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On joining Sounders and Reserve experience: Just a euphoric experience. 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.
On what the Sounders have told him: Be myself. Be myself. 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. And they just told me to be myself, and that’s who I can always be: Be myself. If they see anything that needs fine tuning – as far as it makes me a better player to help the team – then it works.
On where he plays: I can play anywhere in midfield. Preferably right or left midfield, or if there is a need up top. But I’m pretty much comfortable playing wide right or left because I can use both my feet.
On his experience with New England, which drafted him third overall in the 2012 Supplemental Draft: It was going very well. Evidently things didn’t materialize as I had hoped – for whatever reason behind closed doors. That was beyond my control. They only thing I’m paid to do, the only think I aspire to do it play. My management team and the organization will handle the political part of it. I had nothing to do with that. I can’t tell you where negotiations broke down or whatever. But I enjoyed my time there and I wish them the best.
Smith has not yet signed, although coach Sigi Schmid said there is a spot on the roster.
Here's more of what Schmid had to say about Smith: "It gives us a chance to look at him. We had seen him, obviously, when we had our combine in Vegas. 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."
Here's some of what Schmid had to say about Steres: "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. He played well early on in the reserve match, and that’s why we brought him in, and now it’s a matter of him taking that level of play there again. I’m sure he’ll be the first to tell you that the LA game was not his best match, and neither was San Jose. He needs to raise that level. We had a talk yesterday. He’s pretty calm. 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."