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Sounders FC

Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

August 14, 2012 at 3:08 PM

A stop and chat with Steve Zakuani

zakuani mug 2012.jpgThere have been more signs of progress along Steve Zakuani’s comeback trail recently. In an MLS Reserve League game Sunday, the Sounders FC midfielder played 90 minutes for the first time since suffering the devastating leg injury 16 months ago.

Zakuani is no longer listed on the injury report and also made the bench for the U.S. Open Cup final and the MLS game against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Reporters caught up with the 24-year-old after Tuesday’s practice and here is the transcript of that interview:

* * *

(How’d it feel to go 90 minutes Sunday?) “It was hard, obviously. It was a hot day and the San Jose team was a very much more experienced team than we had. It was a lot of chasing the ball, which was a lot of fitness, but I think for myself it was just a chance to get some minutes that I haven’t been getting really. So to go 90 minutes was good and to be able to train 48 hours later was great. I’m in a good place.”

(You haven’t played with the first team recently, but you’ve been in the 18-man gameday squad and on the bench a couple times. Is that a sign of progress?) “I guess, yeah. Being in the 18, you always want to get on and play, but it depends on the game and the situation and the changes we make as a team. It’s been good for me that I’ve been able to be on the coach’s mind for important games — the Open Cup final and the L.A. game — and I think that the San Jose reserve game for myself was a chance to be out there and get some touches. I’ve done that and came out and had a good session today. We’ll see what happens on the weekend.”

(Last week was the first time you weren’t listed on the injury report since the injury. Is that significant to you?) “I didn’t even know. Like I said, I think even when I do get back to playing fulltime, it will take me a couple of games to get back up to speed. I think in training I am back to where I want to be and I don’t have much more to go in training. Games are a different story. I was just thinking: I’m over the injury. I don’t think about it anymore. I’m thinking about match fitness and match sharpness and getting my form, which is going to be tough, but I’m close. This weekend we have a massive game and I think every player here wants to be involved in this game, so I’m going to train hard and we’ll see what happens.”

(Is it harder to stay patient?) “Now it is, yeah. I knew it would be because before I was injured I was used to playing every game — and then it went. I’ve come back and I understand that I’ve had a long fight on my hands, but I think I’ve done well to get back to where I am now. I’m very happy with how my training is going and I’m trying every day to bring back a few more things. The thing about the San Jose game was I wasn’t sure yet if I could do long-distance dribbling and things like that. That was what I was waiting for and that’s back. So I’m just at a very, very, very last moment, and I just want to get out there and actually play in front of the fans at CenturyLink. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”

(Schmid said you played both as a forward and on the wing on Sunday. How much have you been able to get back to playing on the wing?) “I think I’m always going to be a winger in Major League Soccer. In that game, because we had a lot of young players and the personnel we had, I had to play up front. But at the same time, I just was trying to get touches on the ball. I think as I move further along in my recovery I’m going to have to start re-playing the left midfield position, which is where I love to play and pick up the ball. It’s different from playing up top, and I’m not a forward. I don’t want to be a forward. I want to be a winger, which is what I am, so I don’t think there’s much for me to do. It’s just a case of you need more fitness to get up and down, but other than that, it’s second nature. I did it all my life, so it will be easy for me.”

(What do you make of a new-look attack compared to when you were playing regularly?) “I want all the best players to come here. It’s good. The more quality players we can have, then the better chance we have to win MLS Cup, which is what the goal for this team is. All I tried to do before was play my role and all I can do now afterward is try to play my role. If that role is going to be a starter, that’s great. If it’s off the bench, that’s what it has to be. If it’s not even in the 18, that’s what it has to be. But every player, like I told you, wants to be in the starting 11 and that’s why we train and push each other. That’s where I need to be and that’s where I want to get to, but I don’t envision my role being any different. I envision myself just bringing what I brought to the team (before), and if that’s good enough to start, then I will. Otherwise, I’ll do what the coach requires of me. But I think we have a very good team. We’re starting to gel a little bit more. It takes time to get together. (Eddie Johnson) has come in — he’s done great. Mauro (Rosales) is finding himself and Fredy (Montero) is getting some goals. (Christian) Tiffert has come in — he’s done really well. We’re looking good and we’re going to have a good finish here to the season.”

(How close are you to being a music star?) “(laughs) A couple more albums.”

(When does your next album come out?) “It’ll be to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club in Skyway/Renton. Hopefully it’ll be completed by late August or early September.”

(How many tracks?) “It was supposed to be 10. It might push up to 11 or 12, but 10 minimum. … Just fun, freestyle.”

(Any music videos this time?) “No, probably no videos. At the moment, there are no plans for that. Really I’m just having fun in there. Actually, we might try to get EJ. He wants to come with me, so we’ll see.”

(You guys have MC names?) “No. He probably does. (laughs) … He takes it seriously, so we’ll see what happens.”

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