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Tuesday, June 12, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sounders

Notebook: Edwards' return to Seattle gives lift to former team

Special to The Seattle Times

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When the ownership of the Bay Area Seals finally announced that the A-League team was folding in November, Ryan Edwards wasn't sure where he'd turn to play soccer.

The native of Fremont, Calif., a former Washington player, then got a phone call from Seattle Sounders defender Scott Jenkins.

He has started all 11 games at defender after playing two seasons at midfielder for Bay Area.

His soccer world has come full circle, and he's enjoying that twist of fate.

"Actually, it was kind of a nice deal to be able to come back up here where I felt I had a lot of friends and my girlfriend," Edwards said. "It's definitely a second home for me. I was good to come back up here, and it's where I wouldn't mind settling down."

That meant Edwards, a fourth-year pro, was back with the same Sounders team that he started his pro career with in '98. He played in five games his rookie season with the Sounders.

It's almost as if he never left, even though Seattle traded him to Bay Area on A-League draft day in February 1999 for now-retired goalkeeper Bill May. Edwards always moved back to Seattle in the offseason.

But Jenkins talked to Sounders Coach Neil Megson, who was replaced before the season by Bernie James, and it became apparent that both parties were interested in one another last fall.

The move meant a pro soccer career was kept alive, but it also meant Edwards would play for a new coach for the third time in three years. It also meant he'd play his first full season at defender instead of midfielder.

"It was frustrating to go through a coaching change again and have to prove myself again," he said. "But when I came here, I realized I was considered a veteran after playing just three years. I realized I had to help out with that veteran role and do what I could."

Playing defender has been different for Edwards, who's not looking to score as much.

"At times it's frustrating, because last year in Bay Area, I scored five or six times," said Edwards, who's scoreless so far in 2001, but making a difference defensively for a Sounders team with an 8-2-1 record overall. "I've played most of my career in the midfield. Now, I'm kind of limited, but you hope to get a couple of chances off a free kick or a corner kick."

The love of the Seattle area should keep Edwards here long-term even when soccer ends.

"I can't consider moving back to California, because there's too many great things about the state here," he said.

Notes

• The draw for the 32-team Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament occurs tomorrow in Chicago. Both the Sounders of the A-League and the Sounders Select men of the Premier Development League qualified for the tournament and the draw will be broadcast live on www.us-soccer.com. The Seattle teams will face Milwaukee or El Paso of the MLS at a site to be determined. Likely date is June 27.

• The Sounders Select men lost 2-1 to the Calgary Storm in a Northwest Division game Sunday at Memorial Stadium. The Storm, who won the season series with Seattle 3-1, scored a pair of second-half goals in a four-minute span to increase its division lead at 9-1-0 with 39 points. Seattle, which got a goal in the 86th minute from reserve forward Ben Jefferson-Dow, dipped to 7-4-0 with 31 points for second in the division.

• Seattle boosted its home record to 4-1-0 with Sunday's 1-0 A-League victory over Minnesota, and goalkeeper Preston Burpo earned his second A-League shutout and fifth shutout of the season. The Sounders (4-2-0, 16 points) are in third place in the A-League's Western Conference.

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