Being an expansion team, the Sounders have connections with every other team in the league. But perhaps none more than with San Jose, their opponent at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Qwest Field.
The most obvious connection is defender James Riley, who the Sounders' picked up from San Jose in the expansion draft.
Riley seems to be one of the nicest guys on earth, and therefore one of the least likely to say anything bad about his former team. However, he even his polite response contrasting the two expansion seasons indicates that he's happy to have ended up in Seattle.
"If you look around the league (Sounders FC is) definitely the top organization in the league, hands-down," Riley told me this week. "I don't think anyone would argue with that. Coming here there's a lot of differences from how the organization is run to how the players are treated. With that said, I definitely enjoyed my time in San Jose, I enjoyed the guys and the people that I met and the fans there. But this is definitely a step up. It's a new experience, a new situation and I'm enjoying it."
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In an even bigger way, however, the Sounders and Quakes are linked as expansion, well, not twins, but at least cousins. Last season, was San Jose's expansion season; and this, of course, is Seattle's.
This morning I asked coach Sigi Schmid if the Sounders learned from studying the good and bad of San Jose's expansion season.
"By the time I came into the picture obviously some decisions had already been made in terms of the expansion draft and so forth," he said. "It's like I said early on, it's still a matter of taking all the resources available to you. As an expansion team your resources are the expansion draft. Your resources are the regular college draft. It's allocation and discovery players that you can pick up. And then it's what you bring in from the international market. And I think San Jose last year did most of those things, checked off most of those things, but they really didn't go into the international market until midseason when they brought in (Darren) Huckerby and (Francisco) Lima. So that was one of our goals was let's make sure we get into the international market early, which we obviously did with (Freddie) Ljungberg before I got here, and then obviously the addition of (Fredy) Montero and (Jhon Kennedy) Hurtado has certainly solidified that."
And finally, the franchises are linked in many smaller ways even beyond that -- frankly in a lot of ways that I had never heard of until I got the following list from the Earthquakes:
Sounders forward Nate Jaqua played under Quakes head coach Frank Yallop with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 and was traded from Houston for current Quake Kelly Gray, whom he played with on the Chicago Fire and in college at the University of Portland ... Jaqua also played in Chicago for part of the 2006 season with current Quakes forward Ryan Johnson ... Roger Levesque played with the Earthquakes from 2003 to 2005, appearing in six matches for San Jose ... Defender Taylor Graham played with current Quakes defender Nick Garcia in Kansas City from 2003-2004 as did Sounders defender Tyson Wahl from 2006-2007 ... Defender Patrick Ianni played in Houston from 2006-2008 and played with current Quakes Ryan Cochrane and Kelly Gray ... Quakes midfielder Simon Elliott played with Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller at Fulham F.C. in the 2007-2008 season in England (Keller, like Jaqua and Gray, also played at the University of Portland, although it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s) ... Tyrone Marshall played for the Galaxy under Quakes head coach Frank Yallop from 2006-2007 and with Simon Elliott from 2002-2003 ... Marshall also played on the Jamaican national team with Quakes forward Ryan Johnson ... Quakes forward Cam Weaver played for the Seattle Sounders of USL-1 in 2006 with current Sounders Roger Levesque, Zach Scott and backup goalkeeper Chris Eylander ... Sounders assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson played with the Los Angeles Galaxy with Simon Elliott from 1999-2002 ... Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer was the head coach of the USL-1 Sounders when Cam Weaver played there in 2006 ... Sounders technical director Chris Henderson won the MLS Cup in 2000 with the Kansas City Wizards where he played with Nick Garcia from 1999-2000 ... Henderson also played in Colorado with Quakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon from 2003-2005, played with Simon Elliott with the Columbus Crew in 2005 and with Quakes general manager of soccer operations John Doyle in the early 1990s with the United States National Team.