Eidur Gudjohnsen. (Photo courtesy of SoundersFC.com)
The sunny day at Starfire Sports complex was most notable because of the presence of Eidur Gudjohnsen. He's tall and a bit broad, but not unusually so when amongst MLS players. Standing next to Eddie Johnson early in the session he looked similar though maybe not quite as fit. This may be more of a testament to EJ's incredible build than a knock on Eidur.
For most of the non-game drill Gudjohnsen did the things you'd expect from EJ. He used his body, creative flicks, a step-over or two and was generally in the space that mirrored EJ. Montero and Cato were active "up top" (the drill was a quick ball movement exercise, not a goals game). The game was played where a decent view was difficult. He'd only recently flown in and the nature of today's practice meant that fitness was impossible to judge. Adrian Hanauer and Sigi talked about Eidur's opportunity in Seattle and what they thought of him.
Adrian Hanauer on the ability to sign Gudjohnsen "There's obviously a lot of talk left to do, but we didn't bring him in to sign him next year necessarily. We brought him in because we think there's a chance we could fit him this year. But again there's a lot of getting to know each other still ahead before we get to that."
Hanauer mentioned that this opportunity grew from Gudjohnsen's agent out of the blue but Seattle was happy to pursue it. There is a chance that as things progress Eidur could see time in the Sunday Reserve Game. It is basically certain that he will be at the Saturday match and experience what gameday in Seattle is like. His previous linkage to Sporting KC has no relationship to his current status with the Sounders. There are a lot of moving pieces to signing the Icelandic forward, but it is a possibility though not yet a probability.
Sigi Schmid on what he saw today at practice, "It's tough with one practice, first day out. You can tell he's a good player. You can tell by the the touches, his movement and so forth. Obviously players are players and everybody brings a different quality and dimension. He can post up, he can hold the ball, he finds his little options off of that."
Schmid also addressed the appeal of Seattle, "When you're a European player the cities of New York and LA are always attractive to those individuals because they know where New York is and Los Angeles is. Chicago sometimes enters that mix. Seattle now has entered the mix because of what we're doing from the standpoint of fans. People look at it and say 'wait a second these guys are tearing it up at the gate there's got to be something there."
"I think once people come to Seattle they realize it's a pretty nice place. It doesn't rain very often, what we're 45 days without rain. I think it's really the fans, the culture and the reputation that the club has built up more so than maybe than the city alone. Even when Red Bull are struggling and LA are struggling still there's the attractiveness to those clubs because of the city, now those clubs are doing better. But with here the club preceded the city and then when people come here they realize that this is a nice city."
There's a chance. Some of it has to do with you, this weather, this team. It's a nice mix for a player that for a couple hours looked like he still has MLS level talent.
Notes: Darwin Jones is still in camp. He has not yet signed with a pro team, nor with a different school than the UW. Things could most accurately be called "in flux." It will be interesting to see if he is a paid guest player in the Reserve Game.
Osvaldo Alonso did exercise on the side today. He will go through the concussion check this afternoon and how he performs will determine his ability to practice tomorrow. David Estrada participated in the drills, but not the small game at the end. He then proceeded to run laps around the practice field. He's certainly on his way back. Andy Rose fully participated but Sigi said Rose's rib is still sore. All of the keepers seemed to be in good health.
Eddie Johnson also practiced, with Schmid explaining his absence from the recently concluded road trip like this: "When you look at it, he hasn’t really played a full season in a long time. We felt that there was a little bit of an adductor strain that wasn’t all that serious, but we figured now was a good time to sort of rest him, let him regenerate. He worked hard with (trainer Dave Tenney) last week to continue to build that base. But it’s more for the fact that this is his first full season back, and I think he’s going to be a vital, critical piece for us as we go into the playoffs, and as we go into the final stretch. So we figured now is a good time."
Lastly, I asked Michael Gspurning when his next video is coming out. He was a bit impressed by the popularity of the first. "It's a good question. I'm scared because of the success of the first one that nothing has more drama than my name, so I don't know."