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Steve Zakuani halts comeback attempt

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Former Sounders midfielder says he doesn’t think he’ll be ready in time for start of season and doesn’t want to take roster spot away from someone else.

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Steve Zakuani will not be playing for the Seattle Sounders this year. The former No. 1 MLS SuperDraft pick announced on his Instagram account that he’s cutting short his comeback attempt, acknowledging that he just doesn’t think he can be ready for the start of the season.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT! As many of you know, I've been training with my old team, the Sounders for the entire pre season so far. The experience has been great. Being around old friends/teammates and a great coaching staff reminded me of how special this club is. The idea of making a comeback was definitely entertained this offseason and I worked myself back into shape to be able to train at an elite level. While I definitely feel I have something left, and with a few more months of hard work I could have a good career in MLS again, the reality is that the MLS season is less than a month away and I won't be ready by then. There's no way I want to occupy a roster spot while I get myself into optimal shape over the next few months. The team needs players who can play now, either for the first team or for S2. I had two questions entering pre season. 1. Can I still play? 2. How effective can I be? While I definitely saw that I still have quality and can play, I'm not sure how effective I could be right now. Given several months, I think I could reach a really good level but I don't have the luxury of time, the season starts in March, not July. And because of that, I'm not willing to give up the life I enjoy now with broadcasting, running my foundation, and planning my annual charity game, to spend a few more months training and hoping everything goes well towards a comeback. Everything I did in my career is etched in stone and I'll always have the memories, but I'm happy to leave it in the past. It would not be right for me to occupy a roster spot if I don't feel I could contribute as much as someone else I'm keeping the spot from could. The young players on this team have a lot of talent and it's their time. I'll continue to work on the TV side of things and be an ambassador for this great organisation. I am completely at peace with this decision and couldn't be happier to support this team from the sidelines this year. As always, thank you for the support! @soundersfc #sounders

A photo posted by Steve Zakuani (@stevezakuani11) on

Although Zakuani looked like he belonged with the group during the first week of training sessions, he also failed to get onto the field in either of the preseason games. The writing was probably on the wall at that point.

In a lengthy post, Zakuani expressed confidence that given enough time that he felt he could return to a MLS-quality level. But the 29-year-old also freely admitted that he’s not there now and that he’d feel guilty taking up a roster spot on either the first team or even S2.

“While I definitely saw that I still have quality and can play, I'm not sure how effective I could be right now,” Zakuani wrote. “Given several months, I think I could reach a really good level but I don't have the luxury of time, the season starts in March, not July. And because of that, I'm not willing to give up the life I enjoy now with broadcasting, running my foundation, and planning my annual charity game, to spend a few more months training and hoping everything goes well towards a comeback.”

Instead, Zakuani says he’ll return to the Sounders broadcast team and “continue to be an ambassador for this great organization.”

As great of a story as it would have been to see Zakuani suit up again, his logic isn’t hard to follow. The Sounders have a host of players in training camp who will be fighting for the final few roster spots and giving him a spot probably means taking minutes away from someone like Seyi Adekoya or Henry Wingo.

This also means that Sounders fans will be treated to one of the most astute analytical voices the broadcast team has ever had. Zakuani has proven himself a very promising on-air talent and hopefully this means he’ll have an even bigger role moving forward.