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January 21, 2012 at 5:43 PM

A stop and chat with draft pick Jason Banton

banton mug.jpgAfter a long flight from native England, midfielder Jason Banton arrived to Sounders FC camp Saturday. He was drafted by Seattle in the second round of the MLS Supplemental Draft earlier in the week and spoke to reporters after a light day of work. Here’s the transcript of that conversation:

* * *

(You make it in OK? Still a little tired?) “Yeah, still a little tired, but not too bad.”

(Did they make this a light day for you today after the long flight?) “Yeah. I just touched the ball and got to know the pace a little bit.”

(What has your 24 hours been like?) “It’s been a riot. I flew from Heathrow, and my flight was about 2:30 from Heathrow and got into Seattle around 4 p.m. I tried to get some sleep last night and work up at about 3 o’ clock, and then from there I’ve been awake.”

(What was timing like setting up travel plans after being drafted?) “Because of all the snow I didn’t really know what day I was coming over or when I was coming over, so it was sitting and waiting. Eventually I was told I was coming over, but it’s just been a waiting game.”

(Where were you when you got drafted?) “I was back in England.”

(What’s the buzz there with your soccer buddies about coming to MLS?) “There is quite a buzz. A few of my mates were asking how I did it, because a lot of people try to get to MLS, but they usually have to go through college. A few of my mates did ask, but they’re really happy for me.”

(Do you think more might follow in your path?) “There are a few that (told) me they want to come out here, so don’t be surprised to see a few English lads come over.”

(Did you ever think you might want to go to college here to get into MLS?) “No. I never really looked to go to college, because in England it’s a little bit more advanced when it comes to soccer. In England, at age 16 you’re a full-time player once you sign a scholarship. I left school at 16 and have never been back in school, so I never really looked into coming to American to go to school (for free). I was just looking to go straight to MLS, so when given the opportunity, I took it.”

(What’s your relationship like with Steve Zakuani? We hear you have some mutual friends and grew up in the same neighborhood?) “We do have quite a few mutual friends and, yeah, we did grow up in north London. So yeah, the relationship is there already. It’s good to have people that are similar to yourself.”

(And you play a similar style to him, right?) “Yeah, I’ve seen a few videos of Steve and I play quite similar, as well.”

(Is that due to the Arsenal upbringing?) “I don’t know, maybe. It’s the north London upbringing. (laughs)”

(Was it tough not being selected in the MLS SuperDraft?) “You kind of get told that the Generation adidas players go first. It was a bit surprising that (I wasn’t drafted), but at the end of the day, I’m just glad to get the opportunity to come to Seattle. It doesn’t mean anything (where you get) drafted — it doesn’t mean anything. You still have to come to club and work hard. I’m just glad to get the opportunity to come to Seattle.”

(How would you describe your play?) “Stylish. (smiles)”

(Was it this cold in England?) “It was cold, but not this cold.”

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