TUKWILA, Wash. — Djimi Traore has already been a part of history on big teams.
At storied English club Liverpool, he helped the Reds to the 2005 UEFA Champions League title – a thrilling comeback from a 3-0 deficit to Italy’s AC Milan that is one of the most memorable games in world soccer.
Now the experienced defender wants to be a part of Seattle Sounders FC legend.
“Yeah, in a few days I will be 33, but I’m not coming here to retire,” said Traore, who signed last week after a couple of weeks of preseason training with the team. “I know that the football club has never won MLS, for example, so for me it’s a target, as well. I want to be part of the history of the club. I want to be part of the team when we win the first MLS Cup for the football club.”
Traore was added to Seattle’s active roster Wednesday upon the receipt of his P-1 visa and international transfer clearance. The veteran of clubs in Europe like Portsmouth (England) and Marseille (France) said he’s ready to go in Saturday’s season opener against Montreal, though coach Sigi Schmid indicated it might be a few weeks before the new signee is fully in shape.
Outside of Traore’s physical tools – the center back is 6-foot-3 and left-footed – the Sounders have been impressed with how quickly the former Malian international has seamlessly fit in with the group.
“He’s gotten along really well with the guys,” Schmid said. “He’s a good influence, he’s a good pro, and you guys will see, he’s also a good player. So he’s going to help us in a number of aspects.”
Added midfielder Steve Zakuani: “He’s someone who came in from day one and wanted to work hard. That’s all you can ask for. When a player comes in and they’re hungry and they want to go, it wins over the team.”
Traore helps fill a need for the Sounders, which lost top center back Jeff Parke – the team’s two-time Defender of the Year – in an offseason trade. Then Patrick Ianni suffered a foot fracture during a preseason fitness test and looks to be several weeks from his return.
Leadership is another quality Traore can provide.
“When I arrived for example at Liverpool, I was so young,” said Traore, whose English comes with a thick French accent. “The older players helped me a lot. I think that’s one of the reasons the Seattle Sounders took me, is for my experience and to help the young players. I will do it. I would like to do it.”
MLS commissioner Don Garber said that the league erred in its attempts to trademark the “Cascadia Cup” without communicating with fans in the Pacific Northwest. He expects a resolution that will make all parties happy.