The bold move that helped re-ignite Smith’s Caltex Socceroos career
Brad Smith admits he had doubts whether America’s Major League Soccer was the right place to kick-start his career when Seattle Sounders came calling a little over 12 months ago.
The Caltex Socceroos left-back, who debuted in the Premier League with Liverpool as a teenager in 2013, was struggling to establish himself with fellow EPL outfit AFC Bournemouth.
The Sounders inquired about Smith's availability in August last year, taking the 25-year-old on loan.
And despite his initial doubts, the move has been just what Smith has needed to not only get back to his scintillating best, but also back into Caltex Socceroos reckoning.
Smith revealed it was former Australian teammate Tim Cahill, who played in the MLS with New York Red Bulls, who encouraged him to make the move to the US.
“I didn’t really know what to make of it when I first heard of the interest [from Seattle],” Smith admitted to socceroos.com.au.
“But once I spoke to the manager and they sent me some videos about the league, about Seattle itself, the club and the culture they have there...it’s amazing.
“They get like 40,000 fans every game, they are a very vocal bunch of people and around the city they are great.
“I spoke to Timmy [Cahill] before I went there as well. To have a conversation with him was good, it kind of helped me make my decision to go to Seattle in the end and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.”
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And it’s not just on the pitch where Smith has been loving life.
The Sounders have some high-profile, celebrity fans, including co-owner Drew Carey, American wrapper Macklemore and Seattle Seahawks NFL quarterback Russell Wilson.
“I have met Drew Carey a few times which was really cool for me because I used to watch ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ and he was hilarious in that,” Smith said.
“I actually didn’t know when I went there that he was there so when I saw him in the dressing room for the first time, I was actually quite shocked.
“There’s Macklemore, Russell Wilson…and his wife Ciara have just bought into the club as well so it’s a great culture there and it’s nice to see the people of Seattle are buying in to what they are trying to build there.
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“It’s amazing to meet these people, they are very friendly and great to the players.”
Of course, Smith has had to live up to his end of the bargain as well with his performances.
And the Penrith-born defender has done just that, playing a crucial role as the Sounders currently sit in second spot in the Western Conference.
Smith has featured in 21 of Seattle’s 28 games so far this season, contributing five assists and also managing an impressive 20 successful dribbles.
“For me, (getting regular game time in the MLS) has been massive,” Smith said.
“Obviously I have been at Liverpool and Bournemouth – I am still signed at Bournemouth – but obviously (the Premier League) is a very big league and it is tough to play consistent football.
“So for me to go to Seattle and play minutes at a good level and play consistently and gain confidence and things like that is everything for a player, and for me to be back enjoying football is massive coming into Socceroos in form and very confident.”
He added: “It has been amazing to be back around the group and for me personally it has been a long time out.
“Obviously I have played a few games for the Socceroos before but for me to come back in now at the start of a World Cup campaign - which is massive for the country - is an honour for me and it is always a dream come true to get called up and be a part of the Socceroos.”
What would really cap Smith’s return to the Caltex Socceroos squad would be a start in next week’s opening FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier against Kuwait.
Smith, who hasn’t started a match for the national team in almost two years, is vying for the left-back role with Aziz Behich.
But just being back as a part of the set-up is a thrill for Smith, with Arnold’s youthful squad allowing him to reunite with many faces he grew up with in junior national teams.
“When I first came into the Socceroos there was a lot of older boys, very experienced [squad]. Now there’s a lot of boys that I played with that are a similar age to me that I played with in the Olyroos,” Smith said.
“It’s amazing to grow with the boys that you have grown up with and be a part of the national team at senior level.
“It’s where we all wanted to be when we were playing with the Olyroos so for us it’s a dream come true and it’s nice to experience with the boys you grew up with.
“We’re ready [for Kuwait]. We’ll get the win and it will be a great World Cup campaign for us.”
Watch Kuwait v Australia from 1:30am AEST on Wednesday 11 September live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and via the My Football Live App, Live, Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers.