Sports

German pro soccer team inks TJ's Sanders

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Chris Sanders is offically a professional soccer player in soccer-rich Europe.

The 2003 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate recently inked a contract to play for FC Nurnberg of the German Bundesliga — the top professional league in Germany.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to play at Nurnberg,” Sanders said. “I look forward to playing in German professional soccer and working toward the highest levels of soccer in the world.”

Sanders was set to enter his senior season at the University of Portland this fall, but will relinquish his college eligibility to play in Germany.

Sanders, a forward, graduated from Portland in spring 2007 with a bachelor of arts degree in business accounting.

“It was very important to me to complete my degree before embarking on the next adventure of professional soccer,” Sanders said.

Sanders signed a one-year contract with FC Nurnberg, including an option year, for an undisclosed amount.

He is currently playing games with the reserve team and training daily with the first team. Nurnberg won the DFB Pokale Cup in 2007 and is presently headed into the new season.

FC Nurnberg is one of the most traditional soccer clubs in the German Bundesliga. The team goes by the very simple name of “The Club” and has won five German League championships.

Up to 47,000 fans watch the club’s home matches played in the easyCredit-Stadion, and usually more than 6,000 fans accompany the team to away games in other stadiums.

The current FC Nurnberg roster includes players from Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Czech Republic, Australia, Greece, Slovakia, Russia, Argentina and Tunisia. Sanders will be the lone American on the roster.

Sanders’ offensive game should fit well in the German Budesliga. As a 6-foot-3, 190-pound striker, his post-up game on the front line should match up solidly with the bigger European defenders.

Sanders was a first-team, All-South Puget Sound League selection during his entire career at Thomas Jefferson High School. He played club soccer for the Federal Way Bullets before moving on to the University of Portland. Sanders was the 10th male soccer player from Jefferson to play soccer at Portland, but will be the first to play professionally in Germany.

Sanders’ career at Portland was highlighted by selections to the West Coast Conference All-League teams as a freshman and as a junior. He was part of the WCC All-Freshman team in 2003 and he stands fifth all time in Portland history in game-winning goals.

Last year, Sanders played in 19 games and tallied seven goals and four assists. During his three-year career at Portland, Sanders scored 20 goals

Notable University of Portland players that have played in Germany include Kasey Keller (Monchengladbach), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Conor Casey (Mainz), Josh Simpson (Kaiserslautern), Luis Robles (Kaiserslautern) and Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock).

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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