A couple of us caught with Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson after Sounders FC training today. A longtime soccer fan and top club player in high school, Wilson’s broken bone in his hand didn’t keep him from kicking the ball around.
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(What brings you to Sounders practice?) “Soccer was my main sport coming up and I had a chance to meet Gary (Wright, Sounders FC’s senior VP of business operations). I’ve been able to come out to about six games this year. I love the schedule, they play in the day and we play at night, sometimes vice versa. I think (Wright) just threw it out there and said, ‘Why don’t you come to practice?’ And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ My eyes lit up. I called him on it and being injured I don’t have to worry about playing tonight so I thought I’d come out and touch the ball around and watch. Obviously they’re having a great year so I’m excited for them.
(What’s the highest level you played at?) “It was high school. I had to make the choice out of high school. My club team in California, we probably had about six guys that went on and played overseas or in MLS. Our team was really good. My best memory was going to the U.S. Cup in Minnesota and the Dallas Cup and traveling all over the country to play these games. We were probably No. 1 or 2 in the state of California, which is a pretty big state so we were really, really good. I only played baseball when I wasn’t playing a soccer tournament. Baseball was always secondary to this so just coming out here and touching the ball around with these guys is just awesome. I was in high school when I had to decide which way to go and it ended up being a pretty good decision, but it was tough.”
(On getting some shots in) “Yeah, I realized how out of shape I am. I was nervous, like I was hitting off Randy Johnson or something. All the guys were stretching and I just figured I’d do it off to the side. Adrenaline’s pumping, shooting stuff way over the place (laughs). It’s my first love, it always will be, and to come out here was just a thrill.”
(Being one of the guys for a day) “I have a high level of respect for these guys and this game. There’s a lot of contact that people don’t know about. Your fitness level has to be top notch. Just watching their practice and the speed of the game, I haven’t seen it at this level. I’ve been to games and stuff, but to see it at practice is remarkable. I was telling them that my dream as a kid was to be where they’re at. I’m just happy to be out here. I’m a huge fan. My family all has jerseys and we go to as many games as we can.”
Might’ve mistaken Wilson for Ljungberg here as he takes some shots on the left…