Khano Smith was drafted by the Seattle Sounders.
Khano Smith was drafted by the Seattle Sounders.
Bermuda winger Khano Smith hopes to help make his new team the Seattle Sounders one of the top clubs in the MLS and the biggest sporting franchise in the city.

The 27-year-old was picked up by the league's newest club in Wednesday's expansion draft and will play alongside former Arsenal star Freddie Ljungberg and former Leicester City keeper Kasey Keller next season.

Smith said he was sad to leave New England Revolution but had been offered an improved deal by Seattle and was looking forward to turning them into MLS Cup contenders.

The move will also offer Smith the chance to be one of the 'big names' in the team.

"Seattle's shown a lot of interest in me and it's always nice to feel welcome.

"Obviously I want to contribute and help the team. They're building a really strong team right off the bat. When you bring in names like Keller and Ljungberg you know they mean business.

"Hopefully we can be competitive straight away."

Sell out

"They have already sold 20,000 season tickets. It will be great to play in-front of a full house every week."

Smith said it was hard for soccer to get a look-in in Boston's sports scene with the Red Sox in baseball, the Celtics in basketball, the New England Patriots in football and the Bruins in hockey.

But Seattle's sports squads are not as steeped in history. The Mariners in baseball, Seahawks in football and the Supersonics in basketball have not enjoyed the same success as their counterparts on the opposite coast.

"Soccer is obviously quite popular out there so it's a good chance for us to become one of the most important sports teams in the town."

The Seattle Sounders were previously one of the top teams in the United Soccer League, winning the Premier Division four times between 1994 and 2008.

They announced their intention to become Major League Soccer's 15th team in May, aided by a $20m sponsorship deal with X-Box.

Under league regulations they were allowed to pick up ten players (max of one per team) from other MLS teams in an 'expansion draft'. Each team was allowed to 'protect' ten players, excluding them from being selected.

"I was out of contract so I wasn't protected this time, as I have been in other seasons, so I knew it was a possibility that I would be picked up.

"I talked to the Seattle manager and technical director and they were keen to have me over there. They've offered me a good deal and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Smith's former team-mate and friend James Riley, formerly of the San Jose Earthquakes, was also drafted by the Sounders.

The main drawback for Smith is that he is now 3,000 miles further from home.

"It was a real luxury being able to hop a plane back to Bermuda whenever I wanted and I'll miss that," admitted the former Dandy Town star.

The repercussions for Smith's international career remain to be seen, but Seattle's location on the west coast of the States will undoubtedly make it more difficult for him to play for his country.

"I'm sure it will be harder but I always like to play for my country. It's further away, but we'll have to see what happens."

Smith, who is currently in Boston, said he'd be back in Bermuda for Christmas before joining up with his new squad for training camp in January.