The 10 Seattle Sounders who joined the club through the 2008 expansion draft dwindled over the years until last season it was down to just captain Brad Evans.
But now, heading into the club’s eighth Major League Soccer season, the number has ticked up again with the reacquisition of midfielder Nathan Sturgis.
Sturgis first came to Seattle from Real Salt Lake in the expansion draft of Nov. 26, 2008. He made 29 appearances over two seasons before bouncing around Major League Soccer the next few seasons with Toronto, Houston, Colorado, Chivas USA and back to Houston last season. He has been training with the Sounders this preseason and signed as a free agent on Tuesday.
“It feels great,” Sturgis said after Saturday training. “It’s kind of similar; but a lot of new faces from when I was here. … I enjoyed the time I was here. My wife is also from here. It’s good to come back and be near family.”
Other familiar faces from that 2009 season include defenders Osvaldo Alonso and Zach Scott, coach Sigi Schmid, first assistant Brian Schmetzer and others.
“A lot of new players,” Sturgis said. “But for the most part the same staff. … I really enjoyed my experience here and was treated very well from an organization perspective, fans, team, city. Everything is great here, so I was very attracted to try to get back.”
One recent change is the club’s switch to a 4-3-3 formation. For now, the starting midfield slots appear held by Alonso, Erik Friberg and Andreas Ivanschitz.
“I think you have a pretty established group right now in terms of the starting group,” Sturgis said. “So for me it’s just about being fit, getting ready, and whenever I get a chance to play to make sure I contribute.”
Schmid expects minutes for Sturgis, and also for Michael Farfan, another veteran midfielder acquired this offseason.
“Sturgis is a more deeper-lying midfielder,” Schmid said. “Farfan is a guy who can get forward a little bit more, he’s a little more creative. He’s spent time in college and even in his early years at Philly playing more as a 10 — somebody behind the forwards. And Sturgis has always been either a centerback or a defensive midfielder.”
The other Sounders selections in their expansion draft were Nate Jaqua, Jeff Parke, Jarrod Smith, Khano Smith, Peter Vagenas, Tyson Wahl, James Riley and Stephen King, the latter current a member of the Tacoma Stars indoor team.
Panamanian centerback Roberto Chen is no longer with the team. … The Sounders will train again Sunday at Starfire Sports Complex. On Monday, they will travel to Los Angeles and train there. On Tuesday they will continue on to Mexico City where they will conclude their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against Club America at 5 p.m. Wednesday. “We can’t fly direct from here to Mexico City,” Schmid said. “So the moment you can’t fly direct … all of a sudden it becomes a 12-hour travel day between arriving at the airport and the layover. So what we prefer doing … is we’ll go someplace — sometimes it’s Houston, sometimes its Dallas, this time it happens to be L.A. — and we’ll train there, get a good night’s sleep, and then deal with the rest of the trip the next day.” … The Tacoma Stars will open their Major Arena Soccer League playoff series against the San Diego Sockers at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday at ShoWare Center in Kent. The series will resolve at 5:05 p.m. March 6 in San Diego. Tickets for the home game are on sale. Information: Tacomastars.com. The Stars clinched their playoff spot Friday with a 5-4 home win against the Ontario Fury.