CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Soccer is called the world’s game and the 2013 Sounders FC training camp is a perfect example why the name fits so well.
There are no fewer than 17 countries represented by the players at training and their stories are as wide-ranging as their home countries.
Two players – Steve Zakuani and Andy Rose – come to the Sounders from England, but from far different backgrounds. While Rose was born in Australia and moved around frequently while his father worked in the oil industry before landing in Bristol, England, Zakuani’s family escaped a war-torn Zaire – now called Democratic Republic of Congo – to relocate to London.
Another staple in the Seattle lineup is Osvaldo Alonso, who left Cuba for the US while playing with the Cuban National Team, darting out of a Houston Walmart and into a new world in the United States.
Marcus Hahnemann grew up in Seattle, played collegiately at Seattle Pacific University and signed his first pro contract with the Sounders, where he won two A-League titles before moving to MLS, then to England where he played for 14 years before bringing his career full circle and returning to the Sounders FC in MLS last year.
Another intriguing tale comes from non-roster invitee Guy Essame. The 28-year-old midfielder was born in Cameroon, but played professionally in Paraguay and Portugal before landing with FC Terek Grozny in the Russian Premier League. There, the club’s chairman is Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov and upon signing with the team, Essame was brought to meet the president for a celebration.
While in Chechnya, Essame was also able to start a club in his native Cameroon, a club that is partially funded by FC Terek Grozny.
Then there is the story of Supplemental Draft selection Lebogang Moloto. Born in South Africa, he moved to Columbia, Kentucky, sight unseen, to play collegiately at Lindsey Wilson College. There, he was a two-time NAIA All-American and he continues to pursue his soccer dreams in camp with the Sounders FC.
Those are just some of the tales told at Sounders FC training camp. As the roster finalizes, many more will be told.