Sounders speak: A few thoughts from the four Sounders All-Stars:
KASEY KELLER on representing his league rather than his country: "I think any time you're selected for any kind of honor, it's always exactly that: It's an honor, so that's how I took it. It's nice to be named, and I'm going to come here and represent the league, and I'm proud to be back and proud to be an All-Star and I'll do my best to keep Everton out of the goal."
FREDY MONTERO on whether he'd rather have the All-Star break away from the game: "There's no doubt that I'd rather be here because I'm playing with the best players in the league and against a great team and in a sold out stadium, so we hope to fulfill their expectations."
JHON KENNEDY HURTADO on the experience: "It is a little bit curious, but also a very enjoyable thing. There are players you crossed with on the field, but now they're next to you and you get along fine. There's nothing like this in Colombia. Maybe there should be: It might be fun. We're going to enjoy this as much as we can."
FREDDIE LJUNGBERG on Utah: "The scenery at least is very beautiful. The stadium I think is probably the best one, apart from Seattle that I've seen so far."
LJUNGBERG on Everton: "They can sometimes be up in the beginning of the season and then they drop sometimes. Their problem probably is a little bit they don't have the budgets that the big teams. In the Premiership, in my opinion, to win it there are so many games, if you're in the champions League and there are two cups, and you need to rotate your players and they get injured and you need a big squad. I think Everton don't have that much money where they have a massive squad, so if they have injures they get hit more."
Kasey's wild ride: Sounders keeper Kasey Keller flew with the Blue Angels as part of SeaFair on Monday. Here's his take:
"Just a ton of fun. Obviously, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to fly with the Blue Angels. ... It was cool. I'm still a little green, but it's slowly working its way out. That is a serious workout. I have a tremendous amount of respect for those guys and what they do. The first half an hour I felt great. It was just as much fun as you could imagine. Then we started hitting some heavy G's, and I kinda of passed out a little bit and came back and then I felt pretty sick the rest of the way. (But it was) just an unbelievable experience."
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Tickets going, gone: Only scattered singles remain for the All-Star Game tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Sounders have announced that their Aug. 5 friendly with Barcelona is officially sold out.
High school nicknames: Driving back from the stadium, I passed what now has to go down as one of my favorte high school nicknames of all time: Jorday High School, home of the Beetdiggers.
Off the pitch: The All-Stars are off the pitch. Crowd probably wasn't much more than a couple of hundred, but they seemed to have a good time.
I talked to all four Sounders -- Keller, Ljungberg, Montero, Hurtado -- for tomorrow's story. The No. 1 emotion for all four seemed to be a mix of appreciation for being selected and confusion with the whole All-Star issue, which doesn't exist in the English Premier League, Sweden or Colombia.
MLS stars on the pitch: It's hot in Salt Lake, so they've just moved to small crowd across to the shady stide of the stadium (although I understand they'll get no sympathy from Puget Sounders this week).
The MLS stars have just hit the pitch, about 20 minutes behind schedule. The pitch is in full sun, but fortuntely for them, their training uniforms are full white. They're just kicking around right now, and Kasey Keller is taking a few soft kicks from a coach. I'll be heading down soon, and will report back after.
Arrival at Rio Tinto: I've arrived at Rio Tinto Stadium, and one of my goals for this week is learning what Rio Tinto is. (My goal for last week was learning how to spell "Cuauhtemoc.")
It's a beautiful, as Utah stadiums tend to be. Like the others I've seen, it faces the mountains, which are close, rugged and beautiful. Unfortunately, this stadium has a sun-breaking overhang, which obscures most of the mountain view. But it's a solid comfortable brick stadium, very pretty in its own right.
There are certainly some very nice mountain views up in Park City, which is where Everton is training. Unfortunately the train schedule makes media choose because the MLS All-Stars are about to train here in the stadium, while the EPL team is about to train up in the ski town. I decided to be where the four Soudners are.
My plan is to keep this blog running most of the day, with update posts as they happen ... like we do on game day. I expect to be back in a couple of hours after the star train (it's open to the pubic here, and a small crowd has gathered ... apparently mostly youth-league teams) and the interview period that will follow.