Sounders get surprise in Tucson

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SEATTLE — Another big name has joined Sounders FC camp.

The team traveled back to Tucson, Ariz., on Monday and was met there by defender Mikael Silvestre, a former French international who has played in Europe for clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Inter Milan and Werder Bremen.

Silvestre, 35, had been in camp recently with the Portland Timbers, and scored a goal against Seattle in a preseason exhibition last week. He played 40 games for France before his international retirement in 2006 and was a part of teams that won five Premier League championships and a UEFA Champions League title.

The Sounders have been in search for a central defender, but financial constraints are always a concern and could be an obstacle in signing such an accomplished player.

In other camp roster news, Seattle cut three players before the trip to Arizona: non-contract invitees Shavar Thomas and Leo Lelis, and supplemental draft pick Lebogang Moloto.

The Sounders, with less than three weeks to go before the start of the season, will have a game-heavy schedule coming up. They will be one of four MLS teams participating in a preseason tournament called the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, with games against New England on Wednesday, Real Salt Lake on Saturday and New York on Feb. 20.

The championship and third-place games will be on Feb. 23.

Seattle will also play a preseason friendly against Veracruz of the Mexican second division on Feb. 22 in Tucson. The game will serve as important preparation for the Sounders in advance of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against top Mexican club Tigres UANL on March 6 and 12.

So what are the main questions remaining in preseason?

Said coach Sigi Schmid: “Who are we going to play up front next to Eddie (Johnson) right now in the short term? Who is going to play in the back right now next to (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado)? Those are some of the immediate questions we have to answer in the next two weeks and see where we’re at as we start the season.”

Seattle to host June 11 qualifier?

U.S. Soccer is aiming to host a June 11 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Seattle, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

That match at CenturyLink Field would come three days after the Sounders host Vancouver and presumably be played on a temporary grass surface. University of Washington’s commencement ceremony is at the stadium on June 15.

Wahl’s report, citing an unnamed source, is the latest in a long line of signs Seattle will host a World Cup qualifier. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati gave strong indications to as much last week, but many felt the game here would be a June 18 qualifier versus Honduras.

Notes

• New primary and secondary jerseys for the Sounders will be unveiled in a private event Feb. 27 at Cinerama downtown. The event is in conjunction with the first “Jersey Week” celebrated leaguewide from Feb. 25-28. Seattle’s jersey sponsorship with Xbox is set to expire after the upcoming season, meaning other changes could be in store for 2014.

• Johnson and midfielder Osvaldo Alonso were in New York and Miami, respectively, to participate in MLS marketing efforts Monday.

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