Head Coach Pete Carroll and Sounders FC's SVP Gary Wright
The Seahawks and Sounders FC already share a home field. They also could be sharing Kasey Keller’s powerful right leg.
In an unprecedented move, the NFL club has signed the MLS all-star goalkeeper to compete with incumbent
Keller, 40, played football at North Thurston High School in Olympia, but turned his attention solely to soccer once he got to the University of Portland.
“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Keller said Thursday, after practicing with the Sounders at Qwest Field. “This just shows the really close relationship that the Sounders and the Seahawks have.”
The addition of Keller does not mean the Seahawks are giving up on Mare, who was given the franchise tag in February and has made 48 of 53 field goal attempts in two seasons with the team. But adding Keller to the mix is just another indication that new coach Pete Carroll and first-year general manager John Schneider are trying to create more completion at every position.
“I’m excited to be a part of the new Pete Carroll organization,” Keller said. “Olindo and I are friends, so I don’t see this being a problem at all.”
Carroll attended the Sounders’ season opener at Qwest last Thursday and got the idea to pursue Keller after watching him in the 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union.
Keller was given a secret workout by the Seahawks this week and showed he still has the leg to make the transition to football, driving several kickoffs 80 yards and also was splitting the uprights on field goal attempts from 60 yards.
“And I can do more than kick,” said the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Keller. “I can punt and I can catch the ball, too. We’ll just see how it goes.”
Neither Seahawks nor Sounders management could comment, because the details on Keller’s NFL contract have not been finalized – including a rare stipulation where his base salary will not count against the Seahawks’ salary cap because of his deal with the Sounders.
But Keller was feeling so good about his dual-sport status that he even addressed rumors that Mare might attempt a crossover as well, using his extensive background in soccer to play for the Sounders.
“Olindo is a big soccer fan. He’s out at all the games,” Keller said. “He’s a good guy and had a fantastic season. If he wants to come out and back me up, I have no problem with that.”
Keller will be looking to Mare to help him in his transition back to football.
“It’s going to take me a while to get used to kicking the oblong ball as opposed to the round ball,” Keller said. “But it shouldn’t take long. It should be pretty easy. And I’m sure Olindo is going to help me out a lot.
“Like I said, I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
But Keller is not planning to turn his back on the sport that has been such a huge part of his life the past 20 years – when he has played for the Portland Timbers (1989), Millwall (1992-96), Leicester City (1996-99), Rayo Vallecano (1999-2001), Tottenham Hotspur (2001-04), Southampton (2005), Borussia Monchengladbach (2004-07), Fulham (2007-08) and the Sounders, as well as the U.S. National team (1990-2007).
“Obviously, my No. 1 priority is still to be with the Sounders,” he said. “But I’m looking forward to being a part of what I think is going to be an exciting couple of years for the Seahawks.”
The final kicker to this story: April Fools.