On Monday, Amadou Sanyang celebrated his 20th birthday.
He got an early gift from the Sounders FC, though, when the club announced they had signed the Gambian midfielder and defender on Saturday.
Birthday or not, Sanyang was thrilled at his first training session after signing his contract on Monday.
“I’m just excited to be here. It’s a good practice, a good environment, the fans are fantastic,” he smiled. “I’m just excited.”
He had a bit of an idea of what to expect from the organization after playing a match in Seattle with Toronto FC in 2009, but a scoreless draw in front of 32,679 only told part of the story for Sanyang. Before he signed, he was on trial for 2-3 weeks and saw the club from the inside out. He also got some advice from countryman and former Sounder Sanna Nyassi, who now plays for the Colorado Rapids.
“He’s been telling me a lot of good things about the team,” Sanyang said. “A good management, the fans are fantastic. I think in Major League Soccer everybody sees that. It’s just a good environment for a young player to come in and try to compete.”
Sanyang played parts of two seasons with Toronto FC, making his debut on his 18th birthday in 2009, then playing 14 matches in 2010 before a concussion knocked him out of the lineup for the remainder of the season.
On the Sounders, he will give head coach Sigi Schmid more options in a deep, but battle-worn midfield.
“He’s a player who is good on the defensive end of the ball. He recovers the ball well in midfield, that’s something we liked when he played with Toronto,” Schmid said. “He’s got decent size. He’s a physical presence. He’s pretty good in the air. Those are all plusses.”
In addition to depth for the remainder of the 2011 season, Sanyang gives Seattle a young player who can be around the club into the future as well. At just 20 years old, he’s got plenty of soccer ahead of him. The need could become more urgent though. With a Champions League match on Wednesday against San Francisco FC of Panama, the Sounders have the opportunity to add six more games to their schedule in the Champions League group stage.
If they get that past San Francisco, the schedule for the month of August will feature a stretch of six matches in 18 days, increasing the likelihood that the youngest player on the Sounders FC roster could soon make his debut.
A tough schedule has become the norm for the Sounders FC, but that doesn’t concern Sanyang.
“I’m excited to be part of the family.”