The Sounders are off the practice pitch for another day. There were some questions today about the LA Galaxy, and I'll write about some of that over the next coupld of days leading up to the Sunday match.
But today most questions centered on the Sounders' Aug. 5 match against FC Barcelona.
I figured one good source might be Sounders' keeper Kasey Keller.
Here's part of what he had to say.
On FCB's standing in the world: "You have probably five, 10, of the biggest clubs in the world, and Barcelona is obviously one of those. They're in the same breath as your Bayern Munichs, Real Madrids, Manchester Uniteds – top five. And right now they're playing some of the most attractive football in the world. So that's a pretty good combination.
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On what game with Barca and Chelsea can mean for a first-year team: Sets the standard real high for the fans. But mostly it's real cool. It shows the respect that our ownership group has, that our fan base has, that they can go out and secure those games. That's obviously a very good thing. That doesn't happen overnight. That's something that takes time to organize and you have to have the right connects and the right people. It's going to be fun.
On whether high-profile friendlies distract the Sounders from league play: No question. And it takes a lot of experience for people to take it for what it is. Obviously if somebody is a little bit banged up and they really want to play against Barcelona, well, what's important is the Saturday. (The friendly) is something that's cool and it gives everybody an opportunity to showcase their talent against some of the best, but you have to understand what it is. At the same time, it's going to be a lot of fun. I've been fortunate: I've played against both of them a few times – Chelsea a bunch of times. It'll be fun for a lot of guys who haven't had that opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world.
Here's what coach Sigi Schmid had to say:
"Something like that is not a distraction from that standpoint, it's just something that brings a smile to your face. When you think that you're going to have an opportunity to play against Chelsea, you're playing against Barcelona, two teams that all of the guys were watching play in the Champions League. For a lot of guys being able, today (Steve) Zakuani scored a very Thierry Henry type of goal in training, so we were joking around about that and saying 'maybe you can exchange jerseys with him'. But it's a great opportunity for this organization. It's a great opportunity for the team. It's a great opportunity for the fans in this city to be able to see a team like that up close. Just to digress a second, for me, I think I said it once to you guys. When I was seven years old I had the chance to watch Real Madrid play. And it was a memory that always stayed with me and I never forgot that day. So for the kids out there and the fans to be able to come into our stadium and watch Chelsea, to come in our stadium and watch Barcelona, it's a day they'll never forget."
Finally, a little less enthusiasm from Freddie Ljungberg: "I've played against them lots of times before in real game. I know myself from Arsenal that when you play an exhibition game, it's very different than playing a competition game. It's more for the fans to see the players. But I think it's great for the young players that have mostly seen them on TV to play against the players on the big teams. They're going to be in the middle of preseason as well, so there will probably be a lot of substitutions and a lot of players that maybe regularly don't play will play, but like I said, it's a great opportunity for the people of Seattle to see those teams and the young players to play against them."
Here's the Sounders' release:
RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Sounders FC will play FC Barcelona on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest
Field on Wednesday, August 5, the team announced today. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (PT).
Sounders FC season ticket holders have received tickets to the game as part of their 18-match
package, which also includes Chelsea and the MLS Cup.
Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Monday, June 15th at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at www.soundersfc.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
"We have stayed consistent with our commitment to provide value and an unparalleled fan experience for our season ticket holders who have supported us from day one," said majority owner Joe Roth. "We are thrilled to include matches featuring two of the world's most popular teams in Chelsea and FC Barcelona and the MLS Cup."
FC Barcelona, whose heralded roster of international superstars currently includes Lionel Messi, Rafa Marquez, Xavi, Carles Puyol, Thierry Henry and Andres Iniesta – who scored the goal that propelled Barca into the Champion's League Final – will look to secure its third UEFA Champions League
crown on Wednesday, May 27 against Manchester United, at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.
FC Barcelona has more than 150,000 voting members. Barcelona inspired formation of the Sounders
FC Alliance, a supporters association which empowers members to have a vote in the club's