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March 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Sounders weigh in on having to play during a FIFA international window

I know some readers of this blog probably know all about FIFA international windows. But maybe some don’t.

International windows are fixed times during the year where national team games are scheduled (e.g. World Cup qualifiers, friendlies), and club teams must give up their players if called.

National team games can be scheduled outside of the windows, but then club teams can make their players stay.

Most leagues around the world don’t schedule games during the international windows, so as to avoid having to play without their stars. MLS sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t. This weekend, for example, there are league games, forcing a team like Sounders FC to be without Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and Mario Martinez.

There are several international windows coming up in 2013:

March 22-26
June 4
June 7-11
June 14-18
August 14
September 6-10
October 11-15
November 15-19

Some Sounders were asked after Tuesday’s practice how they feel about playing during the windows.

STEVE ZAKUANI, midfielder

“It’s always been strange, yeah, because you expect not to lose key guys for such big games. At this point of the season, we need the three points — and those guys could help us. We have to deal with it. We knew it was going to happen and now we face it. We just have to deal with it and get on with it.”

MICHAEL GSPURNING, goalkeeper

“It’s something new for me, of course, because in Europe everything is coordinated with the national teams. I think it’s not a big issue. Of course it’s tough for us to lose players, but on the other hand, it’s the same for every team. I guess if you have a better team, you might lose more players, but it’s OK.”

SIGI SCHMID, head coach

“Unfortunately the way it is with our league, weekend dates are very important for the subsistence of the league in terms of revenue and those types of issues. It’s tough to open up all those weekends, and I can understand that. The league has done a better job of opening some weekends, and there are certainly some weekends where there are international windows and we’re not going to play. But this is one where we’ve got to play, and with us also being in Champions League, the league has been accommodating by giving us a bye between the two Tigres games, so that’s something that comes into the equation, as well. It’d be great to have a bye this weekend like Portland has, but we were in the Champions League games, so they played and we had a bye. You can’t have everything, and it makes it tough just with the calendar to work it all in.”

“It’s good that national teams want our guys. That’s obviously good. The timing right now isn’t good necessarily for us, because we’re at the start of the season, we’re trying to find ourselves and we finally got the whole group together. So some training time would have been nice. It is what it is. We except it. We have to move on. It’s tough when you lose players all in the same area of the field; that makes it a little bit harder. Every team has got to go through it, to an extent. We’ll go through it and we’ll get through it.”

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