Sounders Insider

Sounders pick goal-scoring forward from Akron

Sounders FC held onto the top pick and selected Akron goal-scoring forward Steve Zakuani, the Mid-America Conference player of the year.

We just got a few minutes to talk with him, and he seems at least as excited as Sounders fans may be:

:It's an honor to me and a dream come true as well," he said. "I just really can't wait to get started, you know? I'm so happy to be going there and to be playing for Coach Schmid, who I know all about – he's got a great track record and I respect him as a coach."

He was asked how he felt went his name was called as the No. 1 overall pick:

"I was in shock," he said. "I was in shock because up until the last minute I had no idea where I was going to go. Last night I was trying to figure out, and you can't know, you just can't know. When I heard my name called first, it was a relief. And to go to the Sounders, I've been telling people all week this is probably the team I'd want to go to the most because they're a new team and it will be good to be part of something brand new, so I'm excited."

As for what he can contribute, he said: "I don't know yet. I'm just going to go there and play. I'm confident in my abilities and what I can do. And obviously Coach sees something in me that he likes. We'll see how it works out.

He's 20 years old, 6-feet tall, 160 pounds from the U.K., presently living in Akron. In two seasons at Akron, he played 44 games with 43 starts, and scored 26 goals with nine assists.

He was born in the Congo and moved to England when he was four years old. He trained with the Arsenal youth team from 1997-2003. However, when an ACL limited his club opportunities there, he looked to the United States and accepted a scholarship offer from Akron. He says the Arsenal background has shaped his playing, although his heart remains with the Congo when it comes to playing for a national side.

"Anybody who's seen Arsenal play knows they play probably the most attractive style in the world," Zakuani said. "I grew up under that tutelage for five years, they drummed in me the principles that I still use today and I traveled around the world with them to some major tournaments and played against some of the best players in England week in and week out, and some of the best players in Europe, and that's really where I got my soccer education in the early years."

Other honors:

Coached at Akron by Caleb Porter

&bull 2008: Led nation in goals and points, MAC Hermann

Trophy finalist, Soccer America Player of the Year,

TopDrawerSoccer Player of the Year, NSCAA/adidas

First Team All-American and First Team All-Great

Lakes Region, Soccer America First Team All-

American, College Soccer News First Team All-

American, MAC Player of the Year, All-MAC First

Team, Soccer America Preseason All-American,

College Soccer News Player to Watch, two-time

TopDrawerSoccer National Player of the Week,

College Soccer News National Player of the Week

&bull 2007: College Soccer News All-Freshman Team, MAC

Newcomer of the Year, First Team All-MAC,

NSCAA/adidas First Team All-Great Lakes Region

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