Sports

Sounders add scoring punch with Swiss star

Sounders FC checked two items from its offseason to-do list Thursday when it announced the signing of Swiss national forward Blaise Nkufo, who has more than 200 career goals for club and country.

The Sounders were looking to add strength and scoring ability to their front line, and Nkufo (Koo-fo) said in a conference call that he brings both of those qualities and more.

“I think I show that I’m a player that can keep the ball, scoring goals, make assists, and also one of my strengths is giving everything for the team,” he said.

General manager Adrian Hanauer said good character played a key role in his courtship of Nkufo, which began about six months ago and heated up with a December visit to Seattle.

However, Nkufo also brings an on-field résumé that includes 27 international appearances and a club-record 111 career goals in seven seasons with FC Twente of the Netherlands first division.

“He’s big, strong, powerful, can hold the ball extremely well in the box, good technically,” Hanauer said. “He is a natural goal scorer and has a nose for the goal. He’s slightly different than some of our guys today. Blaise is a pure, experienced, successful goal scorer.”

The Sounders’ season begins March 25, but Nkufo’s won’t report until July when his commitment to Twente is complete and the Swiss national team finishes its World Cup competition.

His first appearance for the Sounders could come July 15 at D.C. United. The 18-month deal will run through the end of the 2011 Major League Soccer season, and Hanauer said there is an option for 2012.

Nkufo is 34 (he’ll turn 35 on May 25).

He moved from Zaire to Switzerland when he was 7.

The Sounders will be his 11th club. He has scored at least 14 goals in five of his previous six seasons with Twente. He has nine goals in 24 games this season.

Seattle coach Sigi Schmid has no doubt about where his newest player will fit into the lineup.

“He’s not someone who’s going to play wide,” Schmid said. “He’s somebody that’s going to play up top, he’s going to be a target. Whether we play with one (forward) and one (other forward) underneath, or whether we play with one (forward) and two wingers, or whether we play with two strikers, he’s definitely got to be one of the guys up top.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

  Comments