A World Away Image

A World Away

Jarrod Smith tells of playing in South Africa with the New Zealand National Team

While the Sounders are looking to get back in the win column after suffering only their third loss of the season Saturday against Chivas USA, forward Jarrod Smith is in South Africa with the New Zealand National Team.  Today I traded messages with him in a Q&A from one side of the planet to another.

Q: Tell us about where you are right now and what you're doing with the New Zealand National Team.
A: I'm currently in Rustenburg, South Africa in preparation for the Confederations Cup, starting this Sunday.

Q: How have the games gone for you so far?
A: We have played 3 warm up games since we've been in camp. We got beat in the last minute by a decent Tanzanian side 2-1, then had a 0-0 match against Botswana on a questionable playing surface. Then last night we took on Italy and almost shocked the world, being beaten 4-3 after leading for the majority of the match.

Q: You played right wing in the first game against Botswana while you've played at forward with the Sounders. How comfortable are you in the midfield? Is that a position you could play in the MLS as well?
A: I've played there quite a lot in the last few years actually, the national team coach quite likes me out wide, either on the left or the right. Last season at Toronto I played the majority of the season as a right winger as well. But to be honest I love playing down the middle. A big part of my game is my ability to get myself in the box and get on the end of things and hopefully on my return I can get back into doing more of that for the Sounders.

Q: Talk about the game against Italy ... it must have been a thrill to hold a lead over one of the better teams in the world. Does it boost the team's confidence to play so close with a team like that, particularly with a match against Spain just around the corner?
A: It was an unbelievable experience, the lads played really well in periods, and we really gave them a good run. It definitely gives us some confidence that we can compete on the world’s biggest stage, against the best. In terms of looking ahead to Spain this weekend, we can’t get ahead of ourselves, they are currently the best in the world and it will be an even tougher test than the Italians. But we will be going into the game looking to get something out of it without a doubt.

Q: How is your health?
A:My health is as good as can be expected. It's been an intense training environment and there has been some soreness. But it's to be expected, coming in to camp with the amount of football I've been able to play. Every day I train I'm getting stronger and fitter and fingers crossed at the conclusion of the tournament I'll finally be ready to make an impact for the Sounders.

Q: What's next on the schedule for you?
A:We'll be training hard, 2 sessions tomorrow I think, working our way into Sundays game vs Spain. We'll be looking at plenty of video on them and as a group we'll all be working towards doing what no one else has been able to do for quite some time. I think their unbeaten run is currently at 32 games, which is reasonably impressive some might say.

Catch Jarrod Smith in New Zealand’s matchup with Spain live on Sunday at 11:30 am Pacific on ESPN2.  Their matchup with South Africa Wednesday June 17 can also be seen at 11:30 am on ESPN2.  The final game of the Group Stage for New Zealand will be played at 11:30 am on Saturday, June 20, but won’t be aired in the US until 10 pm on ESPN2.  If they advance, the semifinal rounds will be played on ESPN.  Stay tuned to SoundersFC.com for updates.