By JOSE M. ROMERO
Blaise Nkufo's play Wednesday in Switzerland's 1-0 stunning World Cup upset of Spain should have Seattle Sounders fans encouraged, even if the Swiss didn't have the ball often.
His settling of a goal kick and subsequent pass ahead help set up Switzerland's goal, and he was dangerous on the counter when Spain was pressing for an equalizer.
Nkufo, wearing No. 10, was active, often forced to drop back into the defensive side of the field in support with Spain dominating possession. At 35 years old and looking quite fit, Nkufo started for Switzerland, played the entire game and was a factor in his team's limited offensive chances.
The Spaniards had to account for Nkufo's good speed and runs down the middle, qualities the Sounders hope to get from the veteran international when he arrives via transfer in the Emerald City next month. In the 69th minute Wednesday, Nkufo positioned himself for a header in front of the goal that might have been on target if not for the disruption from Spain's Carlos Puyol.
In the 74th minute, Nkufo fed teammate Eren Derdiyok with a perfect pass into open space that gave Derdiyok room to fire a shot that hit the post.
Based on observation, it looks like Nkufo will provide the boost that Seattle's offense needs to make some kind of playoff push. He looked to be in good form and fitness, made things happen with the ball despite limited touches and had to be accounted for off the counter-attack. Seattle is lacking a pure scorer that can create his own chances or chances for others, and Nkufo was that on Wednesday.
Nkufo was also in the box defensively for Spain's set pieces, his size and athleticism important in such situations.
Despite a long career with many stops at the club level, Nkufo had yet to appear in a major international tournament for Switzerland, be it because of injury and a disagreement with former manager Jacob Kuhn. His World Cup debut was a unquestionably a success.
What did you make of Nkufo's performance? Even more excited for him to join MLS?
Share your thoughts below.