It came about a week later than they had hoped, but Onyekachi Apam finally made his Seattle Sounders training debut on Tuesday. The former Nigerian international and veteran of France's Ligue 1 took part in short-sided games and generally got passing marks from Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid.
"We really wanted to evaluate where he was at fitness-wise at this stage," Schmid told reporters following the session. "We'll take a look at his numbers and probably establish a fitness regimen with him.
"There were good things at the beginning of practice -- goals in tight. He's got good defensive tendencies, which is one of the things we wanted. He's got good quickness, which is another thing we were looking for. It's a matter of making sure that we get him fit and get him up to speed so we give him an opportunity to do well and not put him into a situation too early."
Although Apam expressed a willingness to start contributing almost immediately and said he's been training on his own, he also admitted that he wasn't expecting to sign anywhere as soon as he did. Apam hasn't played regularly since May 2013 and Schmid pumped the breaks a bit on expectations.
"I definitely think that the next two or three games is probably too early," Schmid said, noting Apam could potentially play a few minutes in the upcoming Reserve Game. "I'm not going to put a timetable on it. Everybody goes through that a little bit different. Some guys catch fitness pretty quickly. He's not a big guy. Usually the big guys have a harder time catching fitness. He's not a big guy in that regard and we'll see how he comes along. As long as we establish a good regimen hopefully we'll bring him along."
If the Sounders can get Apam fit, Schmid suggested they could have an AJ DeLaGarza-type, a somewhat undersized defender who relies more on quickness and can play inside or outside.
The Sounders' next two games are at Colorado on Sunday and at home against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 10. The Sounders will then close out the season with a pair of games against the LA Galaxy, on the road Oct. 19 and at home on Oct. 25.
Whether or not Apam is capable of playing a significant role in any of those games is hard to say at this point. But former Nigeria teammate Obafemi Martins was clearly excited to be reunited and was clearly hopeful his friend would get a chance to show his stuff.
"The league is about to end, but I hope he's going to start playing soon," Martins said. "He's a good player. When he's fit I think then you can see. I can't really say anything about him now because he needs to train and get fit."
Martins thought highly enough of Apam that he also put in some work on the recruiting front.
"I said to him that the fact that I'm here means the team is good," Martins said. "He was happy and said he's ready to come. I said ‘You have to come because this is a good team. If you are going to come to MLS this is one of the best teams. We have good players as well, so it's going to make it easier for you to play.'"