Back when Kasey Keller was re-signed, I promised to share some of my interview with Sounders Technical Director Chris Henderson. We mainly talked about the recent signing of Swedish midfielder Erik Friberg.
Most of our conversation was about how he saw Friberg fitting into a team that already seems reasonably well set. The big takeaway, I think has to do with how helpful Friberg's being with the team during all of training camp will be.
"When you go through preseason, it's bonding, it's trips where it's just isolated," Henderson said. "I think that's going to be really important for him. We didn't have Blaise (Nkufo) or (Alvaro) Fernandez for the preseason and it takes time to settle in.
"When you go through it all together as a team and then the team gets dwindled down into a starting 11, it's important to go through that process."
To that end, he made it clear that Friberg was brought in to compete for a starting spot. Considering Brad Evans is expected to be fully recovered, Fernandez will have an entire preseason and guys like Mike Seamon and Mike Fucito shown lots of promise when they've been given a chance, Friberg is not going to be handed anything. But having another player in the mix can't possibly be a bad thing.
"Clearly, we're expecting him to compete for a starting spot," Henderson said. "(Osvaldo) Alsono is a guy that plays that one position, we're not going to move him wide. But it's huge to have two or three guys that are versatile enough that you can play them central or wide. It's great to have that on your team and he's one of the guys we expect to compete for a starting role everyday."
To hear Henderson tell it, Friberg's skill set lends itself to multiple positions. He's a hard-working, potential box-to-box central midfielder in the mold of Evans, but is also technically sound.
"Erik is a smart player, he reads the game well," Henderson said. "Postionally, he knows where to be. Technically, he's good. He serves a good ball, he's quick. If there's a chance for quick free quick, he'll notice it and hit it.
"Hopefully we can do a good job of getting him acclimated off the field and all of that so he can relax and just focus on playing."