MLS Soccer

Sounders assessing if midfielder Friberg ready

Erik Friberg, left, goes to head the ball in a match in August 2011. He’s back with the Sounders, but no one’s saying how soon he’ll see action.
Erik Friberg, left, goes to head the ball in a match in August 2011. He’s back with the Sounders, but no one’s saying how soon he’ll see action. Staff file

Erik Friberg signed with Seattle Sounders FC on June 29, traveled from Europe last week and was formally introduced to the local media Tuesday.

The top remaining question is when he might make his return to the pitch, and no one is making promises on that.

“It could take a couple of weeks, I don’t know, to get to 100 (percent),” Friberg said after training at Starfire Sports Complex. “I’m pretty good right now. I need a couple of more touches on the ball, but fitness-wise I’m OK.”

The Sounders won’t need Friberg at 100 percent before getting him into a game. But coach Sigi Schmid was still weighing if the midfielder will be ready enough to return to Major League Soccer play Saturday, when the Colorado Rapids visit CenturyLink Field.

“It’s not just fitness, it’s also touches on the ball, timing, things like that,” Schmid said. “A lot of times when you’re working through fitness in preseason you’re not playing your best soccer because when you’re tired a little bit, decisions aren’t the best. So I think every day his touches get better. I’m not going to speculate. We’ll see where we are on Saturday.”

Friberg is a native of Sweden who first came to the Sounders in 2011, when he appeared in 26 games with 23 starts, recording one goal and two assists. Then he moved back to Sweden and has since played for Malmo FF of Sweden, Bologna of Italy’s Serie A and most recently Esbjerg of the top Danish league.

“From what I’ve seen in the couple of days he’s trained now, he’s very clean and he’s very simple,” general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “Everything is one and two touches. He has very good vision for the field, and I think he’s a player that’s really going to help us connect passes.”

Here is more from Friberg:

▪  On why he left Seattle the first time: “It was family. We wanted to go home where we (had) our first kid. Now we come back with two.”

▪  On if he expected to return some day: “Yes. I was close a couple of years ago. I talked to (sporting director) Chris Henderson every year. I wanted him to know that someday I would be back. Now I’m here. It’s perfect.”

▪  On the past couple of weeks: “It was tough. I ended my season at the end of June. After that I couldn’t do anything else but just run and be at the gym. You can’t get many touches on the ball. I was a little bit frustrated, but now I’m here.”

▪  On his three years away: “It was pretty good. Back in Sweden with Malmo in one league — they play good soccer. Then one year in Italy — the first six months was OK, and then the last six months was not that good. And then six months (at Esbjerg). I thought I played pretty good.”

▪  On how his game has changed: “I’m the same type of player. I’m pretty good with possession. Of course I think I’m a better player now than I was before, but I’m still the same type of player.”

▪  On where he likes to play in midfield: “Of course I want to play in the middle. That’s where I played with every team. Some games I’ve been out wide; but if you see the last couple of years, I’ve been in the middle all the time. And it’s the same here, when I was here in 2011 … I was outside some games, but normally I would play in the middle. It depends where they want to use me.”

▪  On Sounders fans: “They have been fantastic as always. It feels like they want me back, so I’m happy for that. I’ve missed it since I left here. I’m very excited to play as soon as possible.”

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

@donruiztnt

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