Just as I was curious about how tomorrow's Sounders-Chelsea game is being viewed in England (see two posts below), the international media visiting the Sounders training session this morning seemed interested in the state of the game in America.
And that was refelected in some of the questions directed at the two Sounders with EPL experience: Kasey Keller and Freddie Ljungberg. Here's some of what they had to say:
Keller on the difference between soccer in the Northwest and the rest of MLS:"Well, I think we've kind of set the standard in the MLS, which is cool, for attendance. I think a big reason is a good ownership group combined with the relationship with the Seahawks in the NFL. So when you have a huge professional organization like the Seahawks behind you, with your marketing, with your media relations… it just brought a level of professionalism that is difficult to find in MLS. ... A lot of these teams across the country have kind of kept the league alive. And I've heard horror stories from other friends on other teams about the way things are organized and what's been great for me to be able to come back from the clubs I've played with and not have those issues - not being in a half-empty stadium, not having an organization that does things in an amateur way – and it's made a much easier transition for myself."
Ljungberg on his 12 months out of Europe, and what brought him to Sounders FC from West Ham: "Well with a new franchise the players are doing great. We're second (in the Western standings) here. Most people like when it's a new franchise in America they get beat all the time and we're second so the players have done a great job. Personally I'm really enjoying it, it's a great city and the fans have been really nice and great and as you can see, the weather's not too bad either so I'm enjoying myself.
"What happened was that I was free agent for the first time in my life and I said to my agents I wanted to have a little break to think about what I wanted to do and when you're a free agent and of course I could go to the top clubs in Europe. But I just felt like I wanted to think about stuff and I wanted to do something totally different. In the end it took almost five months to decide what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to something totally different, maybe help football a little bit and I went to America, and I went here to Seattle. We have 33,000 (fans) in the stands every game and it reminds me of home."
(Ljungberg also said the ankle he twisted yesterday at Microsoft is OK, and that he'll certainly play tomorrow.)