Christian Sivebaek appears to be one of the top contenders for minutes as Mauro Rosales backup at right mid. (Photo by Chris Coulter/SoundersPhotos.com)
Let's get this out of the way right at the beginning: Christian Sivebaek sees himself as a wide midfielder. During our relatively brief conversation, the 6-foot-3, soon-to-be 24-year-old made that point abundantly clear. Sivebaek said he could play on the right or on the left, but indicated he's never played as a central midfielder and left little doubt that he felt his skills were being wasted as a right back.
"We got a new coach at my former club and he wanted to change the system," Sivebaek said in describing his last couple years at Danish club Midtjylland. "He wanted to play with three central mids and one attacking mid and for the fullbacks to play more offensively. He thought I had good speed and could make good crosses from the back.
"Still, in Denmark they shut you down if they know you’re an offensive outside back. It was very difficult for me because I didn’t feel free to cut inside and score some goals. I wasn’t satisfied. I told the club and I didn’t play much in the autumn."
That's also essentially how he ended up becoming available to the Sounders, who had been scouting Sivebaek for at least a couple years. The Sounders, too, have talked about using Sivebaek mostly as an outside midfielder. During his first full training with the club, he showcased why.
Of all the players on the first couple days of training, few have looked more impressive than Sivebaek. On Day 1, he scored a pair of goals, one of them coming after he made a couple nice moves to shake his defender which led to him firing a shot from about 20 yards out that bent inside the near post.
Sivebaek noted that he feels much more comfortable attacking from a wide position.
"I'm comfortable on the sides," he said. " I never played in the middle. I like to run, go one-on-one and you don’t do that in the middle. You need more vision and that’s not the way I’m playing."
In describing his own game, Sivebaek illustrated a pretty strong command of the English language. Like fellow recent international signings Michael Gspurning and Adam Johansson, Sivebaek's English is basically impeccable. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer noted the trio's English fluency as things that clearly worked in their favor when the team was assessing its offseason options.
On Sivebaek's end, he was clearly impressed by the Sounders' organizational structure. He noted that no team in Denmark has anything like the Sounders training facility or stadium. He also said he was impressed by the level of play after finally seeing his new teammates in action for the first time.
"It’s faster than in Europe, where it’s a little more technical," he said. We have some good technical players here for sure. I would say the level is at least as high as the top 5 teams in Denmark.
"I was quite surprised at how good the players were on the ball, especially the Hispanic players on the inside of the midfield. There were a lot of vocal players who speak to you a lot, which is good."
It's clearly far too early to make any kind of definitive statements about Sivebaek, but early indications are that he's going to be one of the team's key reserves. Of all the new attacking players, Sivebaek seems the most likely to see significant playing time. He has been training with the veterans during the first two days of camp and it's not hard to see him playing the role of Mauro Rosales' primary backup.