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At home away from home

Roger Levesque was raised in Maine, but Seattle has become his home.

Even thousands of miles from his hometown, Roger Levesque has felt at home in Seattle for the last six years.

The Portland, Maine native originally came to the Sounders in the USL on loan from the San Jose Earthquakes in 2003 and has only left for a few short stints ever since.  He scored 34 goals and added 20 assists with the USL club and was signed to the Sounders FC during training camp last year.

This time around he’s trying to hold his spot as one of the more reliable reserves on the Sounders FC roster.

“Everyone’s fighting for the same thing.  We’re all fighting for spots but at the end of the day we’re all fighting for each other to be successful as a team,” Levesque said.  “Whatever happens from a personnel standpoint on this team is going to be the right decision and hopefully it will be a great product on the field for the fans to come out and enjoy.”

Despite his success last year, particularly in the US Open Cup where he scored in the opening minute against the Portland Timbers in the third round and added the game-winner in a 2-1 win over DC United in the Open Cup final, he doesn’t view himself as being in the driver’s seat when it comes to the 24 roster spots.

“Sigi’s stance all along has been that you have to prove yourself every time you step on the field.  So, regardless of what happened last year or who you are, you have to come out and play and that’s especially important this preseason,” Levesque said.

Levesque originally crossed the country to attend Stanford University, where he was a two-time All-American.  After leading the Cardinal to the NCAA College Cup final as a senior, he was drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes and was on the bench when they won the 2003 MLS Cup. 

He also spent considerable time in Seattle on loan that year and that’s when he learned the draw of the Pacific Northwest.  Whether it be the coffee, the outdoors or the nearby snowboarding, he just hasn’t found a need to leave.

“I’ve been here off and on for the last six years and I definitely consider it home.  I don’t have any family out here – they are all on the east coast,” Levesque said.  “But at the same time the people who have been a part of my life out here have made it home.  The people and the energy – I love being up here.”

Still, when the Sounders FC hit the road, it’s not difficult to discern his origins.  A small pack of family and friends waved signs in rave green jerseys when the Sounders were on the road against the New England Revolution, a relatively short drive from Maine, where Levesque was a state high school player of the year in soccer and two-time player of the year in basketball.

“I grew up in Maine, so it’s a pretty tight-knit soccer community there.  Whenever I make it to the east coast I get my fair share of home,” he said.

According to Levesque, this year is much different from years past.  After winning the US Open Cup in Year One, the 2010 Sounders are hungry for an MLS Cup. 

They’re already starting on the right foot.

“I think the thing we have this year that we didn’t have in the past is the camaraderie of the guys that are already around.  Having known each other for a year and spent a year together it’s been great.  It’s a big thing for this preseason,” the 29-year-old midfielder/forward said.  “Last year it was a big group of guys from all different walks of life and it took us a while to hit our stride in that respect.  But a lot of guys stuck around Seattle and put in the work to try and get better and improve on our finish last year.”

The Sounders leave Wednesday morning to Arizona for the second leg of training camp.  Leg three is a trip to La Manga, Spain, and the Sounders will return to the Emerald City for training the first of March.  They kick off the 2010 season at Qwest Field against the Philadelphia Union in the MLS First Kick on ESPN2.