TUKWILA, Wash. – Midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem’s six-month stint as a Seattle Sounders midfielder ended not with a bang, but a whimper. The club announced that it had waived the Norwegian in the hours before Friday’s training session at Starfire Sports, leaving the club with an open international roster slot and a gaping hole in the MLS Best Name XI.
In the wake of the failed Eiksperiment (and it hurt me to write that more than it hurt you to read it), Sounders Sporting Director and head of scouting Chris Henderson spoke to the media about trying to predict what a player would do once you bring them aboard.
“There are times you can’t get everyone right,” Henderson said Friday. “Sometimes when you see a guy scouting, you see him in his team, they might play a little bit differently. Trying to project how he’s going to fit in our team, that’s the trick. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes it doesn’t click right. In his time here, (Eikrem) was a good pro, he did some good things for us. We thanked him for it. We wish him luck in going back to Scandinavia.
“Trying to predict (waiving a player) is difficult. We have a lot of people on our staff that played professionally and they’ll think of times in their own careers that a guy kind of lost his way and then all of a sudden he starts scoring goals and getting confidence. That’s pro sports and being able to predict those things is very difficult to do, but there are times when you need to make decisions and sometimes you make the right ones and sometimes you don’t. You have to have the conviction to do it.”
Head coach Brian Schmetzer said that ultimately, Eikrem wasn’t the right fit for the Sounders attack. After Jordan Morris became injured, Eikrem’s preferred style of playing balls in to players making runs in front of him became impractical for the roster available to Seattle, limiting his usefulness to the team and cutting down his number of appearances.
So what sort of player will fit the team as the club looks to replace Eikrem’s international slot before the summer transfer window closes Aug. 8?
“You look at the way Raul (Ruidiaz) plays, and Victor (Rodriguez) and Nico (Lodeiro) and Clint (Dempsey) and (Will) Bruin and Jordan (Morris) next year,” Henderson said. “You’re not just looking for this year. Those are things we weigh into all of our scouting and trying to predict what they’re going to do. A guy who’s good with his feet, who’s good with the ball, he’s willing to attack. If it’s a defender, someone who can connect out of the back and defend one-on-one well. All those things we want to fit in the way we play. We have to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each guy. That’s what we’re doing now.”
While Henderson made it clear that the club is actively targeting players, the club is still closing in on picking which player from its shortlist it wants to sign the most and that the signing is not imminent.
“When you sign a guy there ‘s a lot of things that you’re waiting on,” Henderson said. “If he’s getting released by his club, you’re waiting on the (international transfer certificate). You can’t just say ‘hey, get him here this week.’ So there’s a lot of things that happen that are out of our control. For me, getting the right guy and the right fit and hopefully it’s the guy that fits our group is the most important thing and then working through the details as fast as you can.”