Seattle Sounders FC have completed the signing of Swedish midfielder and former Sounder Erik Friberg, the team announced today.
"Erik is a smart tactical player and has the ability to put players out of the game with his forward passing," said Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson. "He won a U.S. Open Cup Championship with our organization, and after leaving Seattle he played in three strong European leagues. We are happy to add his leadership to the group."
Per club policy, the details of the contract were not revealed, but an earlier report about Friberg's transfer described a 3 1/2-year deal, with the final two years being club options. The 29-year-old will be eligible to play when the summer transfer window opens on July 8, meaning he could first appear against Chicago Fire for the July 11 match.
Friberg has bounced around a bit since leaving the Sounders after the 2011 MLS season. He returned to Sweden to be closer to family when his first child was born and signed at Malmö FF. His most successful year there came in 2013, when Malmö took both the Allsvenskan and Swedish Super Cup titles. After a move to Serie A's Bologna, Friberg made 7 appearances in 2013-14 and departed again as the side was relegated at the end of the season.
During his 6 months at Esbjerg fB in Denmark, Friberg was a regular starter in central midfield, racking up 13 appearances and a goal, only missing two games during his tenure. He was playing 90 minutes almost weekly until June 7, so he should be reasonably close to full match fitness.
Friberg has been deployed most often as a versatile, two-way central midfielder at all his recent clubs, with some spot appearances on the right and left of the midfield (similar to his spot starts there with the Sounders in 2011). The Swede should have familiarity with the players around him since he shared the pitch with Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, and Lamar Neagle before leaving Seattle.
The signs point to Friberg being an immediate valuable addition to a struggling midfield starting in July. Friberg's familiarity with the club, coach and players, and having played a season that only recently ended give hope that he can slide in right away, after his paperwork is complete and the transfer window opens.
"We're excited to add a versatile midfielder in Erik to our roster," said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. "Erik is a player that is well-liked and respected within our organization, and we're eager to welcome him back to Seattle."
Many who remember his tidy play in 2011 feel the same way. In case you need a reminder, here's why Erik Friberg should be a value add for the 2015 Sounders.