The one glaring hole in the Seattle Sounders’ roster was filled on Monday when the team officially announced the signing of defensive midfielder Gustav Svensson. The 29-year-old gives the Sounders a veteran presence to offset what was starting to look like an exceptionally young bench
Svensson spent last year starting 28 of 30 matches for Chinese Super League team Guangzhou R&F, who finished sixth in the most recent campaign. Svensson also has six caps with the Sweden national team — most recently last year in a World Cup qualifier — and has played professionally in Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine.
"We're excited to add Gustav to our roster and he has joined our training camp in Tucson," Sounders General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a team release. "He brings a wealth of experience, a track record of success and versatility to our team, and we're eager to see how he impacts our squad in 2017."
This isn’t exactly a flashy signing — go ahead and try to find highlights on YouTube — but Svensson is probably best described as a more defensive version of Erik Friberg. More than their common lineage, both could play all over the midfield. Svensson has the added benefit of having played as a central defender, albeit mostly in three-back sets.
But in an offseason that has seen the Sounders jettison 13 veterans and add mostly players with little to no top-flight experience, a signing like this was probably needed.
Prior to Svensson’s signing, there was no obvious backup plan if Osvaldo Alonso or Cristian Roldan were hurt. Brad Evans has never really played defensive midfielder, but was probably the top candidate. Similarly, Harrison Shipp was getting minutes there in training but is much more offensive minded. After that, the job would have been left to the likes of S2-callup Jordy Delem or recent draft picks like Dominic Oduro or Bakie Goodman.