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December 22, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Sounders FC weekly release of offseason news and notes

This in from the team:

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Colombia Flood Relief: $23,500 and Climbing

Over $23,000 has now been raised for flood relief in Colombia through the efforts of Sounders FC, Mercy Corps, the Emerald City Supporters, Gorilla FC and North End Supporters.

Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero returned to his hometown of Campo de la Cruz, Colombia on December 8 to assist with relief efforts after rain and flooding in several Colombian states caused the nation’s worst natural disaster in nearly two decades.

On December 15, the club teamed up with the aforementioned supporters groups and Mercy Corps for a fundraising event at Fuel Sports Bar in downtown Seattle. Sounders FC players James Riley, Nate Jaqua, Mike Fucito, Taylor Graham and Pat Noonan helped raise $12,000 that night. Since then, over $11,500 has been raised online.

Those donating online before the end of the business day on December 22 will be eligible for a drawing for an autographed Montero jersey. In addition, anyone donating $500 or more will automatically receive an autographed Montero jersey.

Mercy Corps have had representatives in Colombia since 2006. The non-profit is currently providing emergency relief kits, including clean water, food and hygiene materials.

For more information and to donate to Colombian Flood Relief visit http://www.mercycorps.org/fundraising/seattlesoundersfc

Gift Idea: Go Rave Green

Just in time for the holidays the Sounders FC Pro Shop has jerseys marked down to the lowest prices of the season. Visit the Pro Shop locations at Qwest Field and downtown at Pacific Place (open until 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, on Christmas Eve).

Or Give the Experience

There’s also the option of giving the Sounders FC matchday experience for the fan of your choice. Sounders FC is currently accepting deposits for 2011 season tickets. To join, please visit SoundersFC.com or call 877-MLS-GOAL. Seattle’s schedule will include matches with MLS newcomers Portland and Vancouver, plus an international friendly against a soon-to-be-announced opponent. Seattle had 32,000 season ticket holders in 2010.

Spreading Holiday Cheer

Players and members of the Sounders FC staff have been active in community appearances this month.

James Riley and Tyson Wahl led elementary kids through various activities and signed autographs at a play day for Special Olympics Washington.

Owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer, James Riley and Steve Zakuani participated as guests for the KIRO 97.3 FM Holiday Magic telethon. Over $315,000 was raised to benefit local foster children.

Riley was joined by members of Emerald City Supporters and Gorilla FC at the Renton/Skyway Boys & Girls Club Holiday Party. Together they presented the kids with $7,000 in gifts for the kids and club.

Taylor Graham, Brad Evans, Pat Noonan and Mike Fucito helped select and wrap gifts for the Atlantic Street Center’s toy store for 400 needy families. The United We Serve event also featured volunteers from the ranks of Sounders FC fans and Seattle Bank employees and customers.

Taylor Graham visited patients at Children’s Hospital and, on the same night as the Colombia flood relief event, also led a cadre of players to the America SCORES Comedy Night fundraiser.

On Sunday Kasey Keller was a special guest at Swedish Hospital Pediatric Specialty Care unit’s Holidays at the Hospital. The event featured activities and games for guests and patients, plus a raffle for several prizes. Donations to the event supported Child Life Services, including art buddies, pet therapy and toys for year-round play, distribution and rewards for pediatric patients. Keller signed autographs, posed for photos and joined Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in delivering gifts to patients.

Upcoming Key Dates (times are Pacific & subject to change)

Saturday, January 8-Tuesday, January 11 – adidas MLS Player Combine, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Thursday, January 13, 9 a.m. – 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Baltimore

Sunday, January 16, 1/3:30 p.m. – Sounders FC Academy at California Development Academy, Loomis, Calif.

Saturday, January 29, 9 a.m.-Sunday, January 30 – Sounders FC Open Tryouts, Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, Wash.

Tuesday, March 15, 6:30 p.m. – MLS First Kick 2011, Sounders FC vs. L.A. Galaxy, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Saturday, March 19, 4:30 p.m. – Sounders FC at New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ

Seattle to Host MLS First Kick 2011

For an unprecedented third year in a row the Major League Soccer season will start in Seattle as the League announced that Sounders FC will meet the L.A. Galaxy in First Kick 2011. The March 15 match on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field will be nationally televised by ESPN. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT. MLS First Kick 2011 is presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Sounders FC will be starting its campaign against the team that eliminated the Rave Green from the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Galaxy, holders of the 2010 Supporters’ Shield, won the Western Conference with the best record in MLS. March 15 matches the earliest start date in the 16-year existence of MLS and Seattle is the first team to host First Kick for three consecutive years.

Last season Sounders FC set a new League attendance record, averaging 36,173. Seattle has attracted 32 consecutive capacity crowds in MLS play.

Seattle is perfect on opening night. In its inaugural match in 2009 Sounders FC defeated the New York Red Bulls, 3-0. In First Kick 2010, it beat Philadelphia Union, 2-0.

All 18 MLS teams will be in action on March 19 and March 20. The New York Red Bulls will host Seattle in their home opener on March 19 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. First kick is 4:30 p.m. PT.

MLS First Kick 2011 will also be carried by ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com. The complete MLS schedule will be released by early February 2011. Each team will play 34 games, facing each team home and away. Ten teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Keller Signs Extension

Sounders FC has signed goalkeeper Kasey Keller to a contract extension for the 2011 season. Keller, 41, will be playing his 20th professional season and his third in Seattle. The Olympia, Washington native played 17 seasons in Europe before becoming the third player signed by Sounders FC in 2008.

In his first two years back home, Keller was twice selected to the MLS All-Star team. In 2009 he was a finalist for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and Fair Play Award and was voted by teammates the Sounders FC most valuable player. This past season he won MLS Save of the Year and ranked second in the league in shutouts (11) and third in wins (14). Five of his 82 saves were voted MLS Save of the Week.

Keller has served as the Rave Green’s captain each season and has played in 59 of 60 regular season matches, and has played more minutes (5204) than any keeper. In 2010 he ranked sixth among MLS players in total minutes (2655) and, including playoffs, he has started 59 consecutive matches entering 2011. Keller also assisted on one goal. His 457 scoreless minutes to begin the 2009 season is an MLS record.

A three-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year, Keller has been a member of four World Cup teams and won three CONCACAF Gold Cups. He holds the goalkeeper records of 102 international caps, 53 wins and 47 shutouts for the U.S. National Team.

Prior to his return home, Keller played in three of Europe’s top-flight leagues: English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Germany’s Bundesliga.

Swedish Midfielder Erik Friberg Signs

It was announced on December 16 that Swedish midfielder Erik Friberg has signed with Sounders FC. Friberg, 24, played the past four seasons for BK Hacken. His signing will be finalized upon receipt of his P-1 visa and International Clearance.

Playing in the middle and sometimes the left side, Friberg was instrumental in winning the ball and setting-up attacks for Hacken. He also scored five times in 94 appearances for the Goteborg club. Friberg (pronounced FREE-burg) first signed as a professional at age 16 with Vastra Frolunda IF.

In 2010 Hacken finished eighth in the Allsvenskan, the Swedish first division, after taking fifth the previous season. In 2008, Friberg’s first season as a starter, Hacken earned promotion after finishing second in Sweden’s second tier, the Superettan.

Friberg made his senior team debut in 2005 with Vastra Frolunda at age 19. His contract was purchased in 2007 by Hacken, where his father, Peter Friberg, had also played as a professional.

Marshall Selected in Re-Entry Process

Veteran central defender Tyrone Marshall was selected by the Colorado Rapids with the 16th overall pick in Stage 2 of the Major League Soccer Re-Entry Process. Marshall, 36, has appeared in 46 matches with 39 starts in his two seasons in Seattle.

Obtained in a trade with Toronto FC on February 10, 2009, Marshall was voted by his teammates as 2009 Defender of the Year, anchoring a defense which tied for first in goals allowed per game (0.97) and second in shutouts (10). He also contributed three goals and three assists.

Marshall will enter the 2011 season ranked 15th in MLS all-time regular season games played (294), 9th amongst active players. He is 17th in minutes played (23,349), 10th amongst active players. A two-time MLS All-Star (2003, 05), Marshall was twice named Defender of the Year by the L.A. Galaxy (2004, 2005) and he was a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year in 2005. He has 70 caps and five goals for the Jamaican National Team.

Sounders FC acquired goalkeeper Chris Seitz from the Philadelphia Union in Stage 2 of the MLS Re-Entry Process and traded him to FC Dallas for a fourth round SuperDraft pick in 2012.

500 Tickets for Cascadia

Major League Soccer has approved a plan for the supporters groups from Sounders FC, the Portland Timbers, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC to purchase up to 500 tickets for away matches against their Cascadia rivals in 2011.

Although detailed operational plans are still being developed, the 500 tickets will be sold to each of the visiting clubs, who will then allocate those tickets to their travelling supporters groups.

The rivalry between the three clubs dates back to the old North American Soccer League. Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps entered that league in 1974, while Portland Timbers followed suit in 1975. The Pacific Northwest rivalry was rekindled in the 1990s when the clubs competed in North America’s second division professional leagues.

Whitecaps FC and Timbers will join MLS in 2011 as the 17th and 18th clubs; Sounders FC made its MLS debut in 2009. Prior to the start of the 2011 season, MLS will announce League-wide guidelines for travelling supporters.

Montero is Finalist for Seattle Sports Star of the Year

Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero has been named one of five finalists by the Seattle Sports Commission for Sports Star of the Year. The award is given annually to a professional athlete or coach for outstanding sports achievement in the past year or season. Montero led Sounders FC in nearly every offensive statistical category in 2010, including 10 goals and 10 assists.

The list of nominees includes Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), Tim Lincecum (San Francisco Giants), Lewis Ratcliff (Washington Stealth) and Mike Williams (Seattle Seahawks). Fans can vote for their favorite nominee by visiting SeattleSports.org. Voting runs through January 21, 2011, and individuals can vote up to once a day. Winners will be announced during the show on Wednesday, January 26, 2011, at Benaroya Hall.

In Hollywood, Florida last week, Montero accepted the award for Best Player in MLS from Premios Fox Sports for the second consecutive year. Premios Fox Sports recognizes the accomplishments of US Hispanic and Latin American athletes for their contributions on and off the field.

Okoli Plays for U18 National Team in Israel

Sounders FC academy forward Sean Okoli played in two games for the U.S. U18 National Team last week during a tournament in Tel Aviv, Israel. Okoli logged 116 minutes with one start as the U.S. went 0-1-2.

Okoli entered as a second-half substitute in the team’s first game, a 3-0 loss to France on December 14. He did not appear in the second match, a scoreless draw against host Israel, but he got his first start on the final day of the tournament. Okoli played 54 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Germany on December 17 before returning to the States.

A 17-year-old from Federal Way, Okoli was the only selection from the Northwest. He leads the Sounders FC Academy team with six goals.

Open Tryout Dates Set

The Seattle Sounders FC will hold Open Tryouts on January 29-30, 2011, at the team’s training ground, the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington. Tryouts will be conducted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Open tryouts are open to male soccer players ages 18 years and older. Tryouts will feature small-sided as well as 11v11 games.

Players will be assessed by members of the Sounders FC technical and coaching staffs, including Head Coach Sigi Schmid, General Manager Adrian Hanauer and Technical Director Chris Henderson.

The registration cost for each player is $125. Space is limited and will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. Registration fees will go directly to the Sounders FC Youth Academy program.

To register, visit www.SoundersFC.com/opentryouts.

Throw-ins

Sounders FC has been nominated for The Seattle Times sports story of the year after becoming the first MLS team to win back-to-back U.S. Open Cups. The Times will publish the top 10 stories as voted by the fans on December 26. There are 15 nominees and the poll closes at 5 p.m. on Friday; you can vote for up to 10 stories…Electron Boy, the superhero who saved Sounders FC from Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy as part of Make-A-Wish Foundation’s World Wish Day, has his own comic book that was released earlier this week. You can read and order the comic book at http://ccpcomics.com/electronboy/index.html with all proceeds going to the family to help cover medical expenses with any remaining money going to benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation…Five years ago, on December 22, 2005, goalkeeper Kasey Keller was named U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year for an unprecedented third time. During 2005 Keller, then with Germany’s Borussia Moenchengladbach, posted eight shutouts for the U.S. National Team and had a scoreless run of 639 minutes over seven World Cup qualifying matches.

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