Erik Friberg is getting comfortable in two new places – the city of Seattle and the Sounders FC midfield.
One of the Sounders newest faces spent most of his youth in Gothenburg, Sweden. When it came time to play professionally, it was with BK Hacken in Gothenburg where he decided to learn the craft of playing as a central midfielder.
Now, for the first time in his life, he is alone outside of his hometown and learning life in Major League Soccer with the Sounders FC.
For the first month, he hardly had an opportunity to enjoy his northwest surroundings. After a week of training in Seattle, the team moved to Arizona for two weeks for training camp. After returning for a few days, it was off to Florida for more training camp.
Only in the last two weeks has he been able to get comfortable in his apartment.
“It’s getting better and better,” the 25-year-old said. “It’s good to have my apartment now and have routines.”
In Seattle, he joins a team with a returning group of four starting midfielders that are all among the top in the league at their respective positions. That didn’t slow the smooth-passing Friberg from impressing in preseason though. His deft ball-handling and distribution bring a new dynamic to the midfield.
Against the Colorado Rapids in the Community Shield match presented by adidas, O’Brian White headed a ball from Alvaro Fernandez back toward Friberg, who chested it to his feet and volleyed it forward for Fredy Montero, who did the work in the box to score the first of his two goals on the night.
It was just a taste of what the long-haired Friberg has to offer.
Likewise, Friberg only got a taste of the 36,000 strong that are on hand for each Sounders FC home match when he played in front of the 3,100 at Starfire for the Cascadia Summit or 7,355 at Qwest Field for the Community Shield match. That’s another thing that will take some adjusting for Friberg – at BK Hacken, the home stadium holds only 8,480.
“We have good fans in Sweden, but not nearly that many,” Friberg said.
At Starfire, some fans shouted to him in Swedish.
“I enjoyed that,” he laughed.
His comfort with the Sounders and Seattle could mean great things in the early-going. After Brad Evans suffered a hamstring injury on Wednesday that could keep him from playing in the season opener against the LA Galaxy, Friberg is more and more likely to see significant time right out of the gates.
He will be ready when the coaches call his number.
“I hope I’m going to play next week,” he said. “But it’s up to the coaches.”
Meet the Midfielders
Alvaro Fernandez: The Uruguay National Team midfielder joined the Sounders FC at midseason in 2010 after reaching the semifinals of the World Cup in South Africa. In 12 regular season matches, he scored 2 goals and he also added another to advance the Sounders into the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Osvaldo Alonso: The Sounders FC’s 2010 MVP is back for his third season in Seattle. He missed seven matches in 2010 with a quad injury, but made his impact felt in the second half of the season, when the Sounders went 10-2-3 in the final 15 games of the season. He has 2 goals and 6 assists in his Sounders career.
Brad Evans: The 25-year-old midfielder was limited to 12 matches last season because of knee injuries and was vital to keeping the Sounders afloat early in the season when they were riddled with injuries in the early stages of the season. He set up Fredy Montero’s game-winning goal against the New York Red Bulls in likely his best game as a Sounder, but was injured in the match and was limited from that point on. In four MLS seasons he has 9 goals and 7 assists.
Steve Zakuani: The third-year winger from the University of Akron took dramatic steps from a 2009 season that saw him as a finalist for MSL Rookie of the Year honors. After posting 4 goals and 4 assists in his first pro season, Zakuani lifted his play to a new level in 2010 with 10 goals and 6 assists. After a stint training with Everton in the Premier League in the off-season, he is set to take the next step in 2011.
Erik Friberg: The Swedish midfielder joins the Sounders after playing four seasons with BK Hacken in his hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. He was key in getting BK Hacken promoted to the first division after his second season with the club.
Pat Noonan: In his first three seasons in MLS, Noonan tallied 29 goals and 22 assists. Now entering his ninth MLS season, he is looking to regain some of that form after off-season hip surgery. He played 12 matches for Seattle last year, staring 8, and notched a goal and an assist.
Roger Levesque: Levesque has been a professional in Seattle since 2003, with six seasons at the USL level before playing for the Sounders FC in MLS. His only goal in 2010 came in the 89th minute of a 1-0 road win over DC United and one of his two goals in 2009 was the lone goal in a 1-0 win on the road over the Columbus Crew.
Miguel Montano: The Colombian midfielder joined the Sounders on loan in 2010 and picked up three assists in US Open Cup play, while appearing in six MLS matches. At just 18 years old, he was the youngest player to appear in a match for Sounders FC when he made his MLS debut in May.
Mike Seamon: The Villanova product joined the Sounders at midseason after completing his degree. He scored in his first appearance – a friendly match with Boca Juniors – and made 8 MLS appearances, three as a starter.
Servando Carrasco: The 27th overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Carrasco adds depth to the midfield after four standout seasons with Cal. He impressed in preseason and will add depth to the defensive midfield role manned by Alonso.