On Monday, the Sounders FC announced that Erik Friberg would return to his native Sweden to play with Malmo FF on a transfer from Seattle.
It was a move that showed the humanity on the side of the organization, as Friberg sought a return to his homeland to start a family of his own and be close to home and the club acquiesced, but not without receiving compensation for the 25-year-old midfielder.
“For me, a player’s life needs and family needs trump just about everything else,” said Sounders FC owner/GM Adrian Hanauer. “If a player isn’t settled and happy and comfortable, they aren’t going to perform well.”
Friberg played one season for the Sounders, registering one goal and two assists in 34 matches across all competitions. After the season, though, he expressed a desire to return to Sweden, where he had played six seasons before joining the Sounders, to raise his family.
Knowing this, Seattle protected him in the expansion draft as one of three foreign players they had to protect along with Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales, in part to ensure that his transfer was as amicable as possible.
“We knew what Erik’s objective was, but he understood that there was a possibility that if we couldn’t get a deal done, he might end up back in Seattle. He was prepared to do that, but I don’t think that’s ultimately what would have made him happy. He’s got a great attitude and personality. He wouldn’t have moped, but it can affect how a player does,” Hanauer said. “It was the right thing to do. We take this very seriously, but it’s not as serious as life itself.”