Sounders Rose and Anibaba have a special friendship
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
The two new teammates have been friends off the pitch for quite some time and are thrilled that they get to play together in Seattle.
It wasn’t long ago that Jalil Anibaba was walking around downtown Seattle with Andy Rose that he had a premonition.
Then a defender for the Chicago Fire, Anibaba turned to his friend who mans the midfield for Sounders FC and, on that early-November day, said he knew that one day they would be teammates.
Then in January, Rose looked at his phone and saw that Anibaba left him a message at seven in the morning and knew that his sense was right.
“I thought to myself, ‘There can only be one thing that he’s calling me about this early.’ So I called him back and he was just buzzing,” Rose said smiling as he recalled the day he found out Anibaba had been traded to Seattle for Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, along with a swap in first round draft picks.
If Rose was surprised by Seattle’s new addition, Anibaba was downright shocked.
“It was about 6:30 in the morning when my agent told me,” Anibaba recalled on the Sounders FC Round Table Podcast. “I was half awake and wondering, ‘Is this real?’ Once I processed it, I was really, really excited.”
Theirs is a friendship born in competition. Anibaba and Rose first met when both were training with Sounders FC during the summer of 2010. It is not an uncommon practice for college players to take part in training sessions with pro clubs, helping the player stay fit and gauge themselves against professional players while the clubs can get a look at how well they fit in with the pro ranks when considering them for future selections in the MLS SuperDraft.
At the time, they were the only college players training with Seattle and quickly found themselves to be kindred spirits and have been fast friends ever since.
Now that they are teammates with Seattle, Rose has been instrumental in helping Anibaba adjust to his new club, but with so many new players on the team, a hardworking approach has permeated throughout the team.
“He’s been a huge help in terms of the adjustment,” Anibaba said. “Anytime you come to a new group, it’s about earning everybody’s respect and working hard day in and day out. We have a lot of guys with that mentality and that’s what the locker room is agreeing upon without even really talking about it. Everyone is on the same page and that can only help us moving forward.”
Anibaba has long been a target for Sounders FC. Seattle was hoping he would fall to them in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, but the Fire selected him with the ninth overall pick.
“One of the things that I’ve always liked about Jalil is his attitude. He’s just an upbeat guy,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s alert. He’s in tune to what’s going on in the game. Physically, he has good qualities. He’s got good speed. He can recover. He can win headers. There are a lot of things that he has going for him.”
Some of those qualities become even more valuable with DeAndre Yedlin in the lineup. A right back who is highly proficient on the attack, Yedlin can sometimes leave defensive holes on the right side when he presses forward. Having a versatile and speedy center back like Anibaba alleviates some of that pressure.
“Ideally, if our game is flowing well we might look like we have three in the back with DeAndre going forward,” Schmid said. “Having somebody who can play center back who can slide and has the pace that he can sit in that hole in the right hand side and allow (Chad) Marshall to stay in the middle, there’s at times a benefit to that.”
Anibaba has shown early in camp that he is a good fit both on the field and in the locker room.
To Rose, it has been a particularly welcome addition among a slew of change in the offseason.
“When you have a really good friend on any team it just makes going into training that much more enjoyable,” Rose said. “We’ve got some great, great guys and Jalil is one of them. I’m very happy he’s here.”