UEFA Nations League returned this week, marking the first time international soccer matches have been played since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Among those matches are two involving Sweden for which Gustav Svensson has been called into.
After winning their B Division last year, Sweden is now playing in UEFA’s A Division in a group with France, Portugal and Croatia.
The first of those matches is Saturday against France. The second will be on Tuesday against Portugal. Both matches are being played in Sweden. Both matches will be played without fans.
Svensson already missed Wednesday’s match against Real Salt Lake and will at least miss Sunday’s match against the Portland Timbers, as well.
The best-case scenario for Svensson’s return would probably be coming off the bench against the San Jose Earthquakes next Thursday, but even that is probably wishful thinking as it would require him playing about 24 hours after making a trans-Atlantic flight after potentially having already played two matches in less than a week. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said on Friday that Svensson would not be available for the Earthquakes match, either.
Frustrating as it may be to lose Svensson for these matches, it still has to be seen as a considerable honor for him. Of the 24 players called into the team, Svensson is the only one playing outside of Europe and many of the players are on rosters in the so-called “Big 5.” All but six of Svensson’s 27 national team caps have come since joining the Sounders in 2017, albeit mostly as an option off the bench.