Nothing has been formally announced, but we're pretty certain that Erik Friberg is set to make his Seattle Sounders return and that an announcement could come as soon as Monday. Recognizing that Friberg may not be a household name, I've compiled a list of 10 reasons I think this is a good move for the Sounders.
1. PERFECT locker room fit. This is hugely important to the organization. He is great friends with Brad Evans and others already, is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and truly loved being here. The only reason he left is because his wife was pregnant and they went home to ensure citizenship for the baby (Swedish citizenship is very valuable). I can NOT understate how important locker room cohesion is. This team is the best in the league without him, adding a player that doesn’t upset this is paramount. His sense of humor is hilarious -You will love his/Evans Twitter conversations. Brings a ton of experience and leadership for the young guys without an attitude that can annoy the older players. Forget the last few losses, this team is great and its important we add the right players to accentuate that.
2. Because of the lack of a DP spot available, the next best thing is an "almost Designated Player". Friberg fits this criteria. He is in his prime, played in Serie A and has a good pedigree. With the salary cap this level of player at functional salary (Pappa, Evans, Mears, Frei, Marshall) is ESSENTIAL to a good MLS team.
3. Erik's passing and vision is a great match to open up the runs of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in front of him. He is really tight with control and his short passing is tremendous. He should instantly work well with forwards. Also will combine with Ozzie who has great short passing as well, allowing more interchanging between the mids. I think possession is just going to get obscenely good with our first-choice 11 on the field. With Evans in the back and Friberg adding to the middle this team will not give up the ball easily.
4. Friberg looks vertical, has the ability to look over the top which we don’t have a lot of unless Dempsey drops in behind. If he’s doing that, he can’t be on the end of stuff (we want him on the end of stuff). Also, where Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa look for the over-the-top runs, Friberg is more likely to put through balls angled on the ground. This bodes well for Oba, especially, who can get behind (and Neagle, should he keep the right wing spot) and get service to his feet, instead of dealing with aerial passes.
5. Good work rate, will turn in a box-to-box offensive and defensive effort - not great pace but a step up from Pineda. Willing to mix it up in midfield (fiery, passionate player on field). Much less fragile than Pineda. Much more technically sound than Rose. There should be no running out of gas with the CMs late in games.
6. Able to play wing, or possibly more importantly able to switch on the fly with inverted wingers (Pappa especially) - Marco floating to the middle just moves Friberg outside where he is very competent. I also think he can drop and allow Alonso or overlapping defenders to get into the play when needed or support an attack vertically if Dempsey drops back to get touches.
7. Solid set-piece service that gives another right-footed option (although I like Mears for this too). More guys with good touch on the field is better when your DP's are highly skilled, technical players.
8. Makes great late runs into the box. His ability to know when to attack and run off of the forwards is Evans like (when Evans played CM) and much better than Pineda who holds back due to speed issues. Comparable to Rose in this aspect. Think of Oba attacking the 6-yard box, Dempsey trailing back post, and Friberg that late run past the top of the 18 for layoffs and the hole that the others create.
9. HE SCORES!!! An actual viable scoring threat from center mid! Willing to shoot and finishes calmly. Shoots on frame. MOAR goal dangerous hydra heads.
10. Pencils in easily in front of Alonso, pushes Pineda to very nice backup option. Allows depth chart of Azira backing up Alonso, Pineda/rose backing up friberg, with Thomas behind Pappa and Neagle/Rose/Roldan on the right wing. Everyone gets a set role. With fixture congestion/gold cup/injuries should really help (Pineda ankle, Rose hamstring etc.)
So that’s kind of an overview of the high points and why I think Friberg should be a great fit. He’s not the best player out there for sure, but he might be the right player, and I do know that he won’t be a detriment to the team. I think we are the best team in the league so there is no need to overspend/hamstring financially the team to get a player who could mess with an already good thing. This is almost assuredly a player who makes us better at some expense but very little risk.