Sanneh suits up for Thunder tonight

Categories: Soccer
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Tony Sanneh is arguably one of the best defenders ever to suit up for the U.S. national team. He's taken the field 43 times for the yanks, scoring three goals. At the 2002 World Cup he played every minute, setting up Brian McBride's goal against Portugal in the squad's crucial opening game victory. The St. Paul native has spent time with top German clubs FC Nurnberg and Hertha Berlin, along with MLS squads D.C. United and Chicago Fire. So why the hell is he coming to play for a team that currently sits at the bottom of the USL First Division?


The answer is somewhat complicated. Sanneh spent last season with the Fire, but he didn't like the direction the franchise was headed. "I saw the writing on the wall," he says, speaking by cell phone. "I didn't think they were going up. They were going down. Obviously I was right because they're in last place."

But Chicago still retained the 36-year-old defender's MLS rights. After recovering from hip surgery, Sanneh began training with the New York Red Bulls two months ago. He says that a deal was in place for him to join the new squad, but then Chicago backed out of a deal. "When Chicago's coach got fired that was a little bit of a shakeup because the organization wanted more time before they made trades and stuff," he says. "Then they basically reneged on the trade that they had with New York and sent me outside of the division to Colorado."

So Sanneh is now in contractual limbo, still hoping to ultimately end up in New York. But in the meantime Sanneh figured he could help out his former club and regain match fitness by spending a couple of weeks with the Thunder. "I've been practicing, but game condition is different," he says. "We thought it would be a win-win here. They're a young team and they haven't been doing great. I can help them out a little bit and I can be at home."

So is there any chance that if things fall through with New York that Sanneh will stick around for the rest of the season? "No, it's pretty much just two weeks," he says. "I would go back and just practice [with the Red Bulls] at that point."

Expect to see Sanneh in the central defense tonight when the Thunder take the field against the California Victory.


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