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Finding Joy

O'Brian White is building his confidence and helping the Sounders bounce back from a slow start.

The Sounders FC acquired O’Brian White in a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps after the expansion club selected the Jamaican forward in the expansion draft on November 24, 2010.

From the moment he landed on the Seattle roster, head coach Sigi Schmi said the Sounders would have a lot of joy with White in the lineup.

On Saturday, many found out why, as White had a goal and an assist in Seattle’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire at Qwest Field.

He snuck a wily pass to Steve Zakuani up the left side that led to Zakuani’s second goal of the season.  However, the most telling sign of why Schmid had such confidence was when he finished his second goal of the season.

Mauro Rosales crossed the ball from 30 yards out on the right sideline, leaving it just a bit behind White, who was making a move into the middle of the box between two defenders.  White stopped his progress, stepped back to hold off Jalil Anibaba at his back and smashed a header after the ball got past Dasan Robinson in front of him, catching a stunned Sean Johnson completely unprepared to stop his shot from finding the net inside the near post.

“It’s magnificent!” Arlo White shouted on the television broadcast on KING-5.  “Absolutely magnificent!”

Schmid used a different word – special.

“When you really look at his goal, that’s a pretty special goal,” Schmid said.  “It might not get goal of the week, but to generate that amount of power on a header from that far out in between two guys is kind of special.”

With two goals through five matches – both coming in the last two matches – he equals his total from 2010 with Toronto FC.

Given a consistent role and some capable players around him, White has shown his ability to score, but also his strength at holding up the ball.

“He did a really good job, especially the first 45 minutes, shielding and holding up play for us,” Schmid said.  “We’ve got to be pleased with what he’s done over the last two games.”

That all-important confidence could snowball into even more success, Schmid says. 

“Forwards sometimes are a little bit streaky and for him to find his confidence … if he’d had these games under his belt maybe some of the opportunities he had against LA in game one he might have been a little better with his final touch,” Schmid said.

White is getting more and more acquainted with his teammates – as is Rosales, who has two assists in the last two matches while providing consistent service in the absence of injured forward Fredy Montero – and with that comes even more confidence.

His success couldn’t come at a better time, personally, as Nate Jaqua is beginning to battle for the starting role now that he’s recovered from off-season hip surgery and nearing the fitness to start matches and play extended minutes.

“He knows Nate is about ready to go and if that’s what’s motivating him, that’s fine,” Schmid said.