13 days after the start of Sounders FC training camp, the team is finally whole after Adam Johansson participated in his first training session with his new club on Wednesday.
The Swedish defender was in Qatar with the Swedish National Team, helping them to wins over Bahrain and the Qatar U-23s. The 28-year-old right back made his 11th cap for Sweden, then returned home to say his goodbyes and pack for a move to Seattle for his first season in Major League Soccer.
First though, was a stop in Casa Grande, Arizona, for training camp. He arrived Tuesday night, equipped with all the bags he packed for the move to Seattle and ready to start the newest chapter in his career.
“It feels great to be here,” he said. “I had some days off with the national team, but now that I’m here, I feel good.”
It was a light morning session for Johansson, who took part in the initial warm-up and some of the drills, then did fitness work while the team split into higher-intensity drills.
While head coach Sigi Schmid is easing him into training camp, he has big plans for Johansson, who played seven seasons with IFK Goteborg before signing with the Sounders in December.
“In the modern game of soccer, the outside backs see a lot more of the ball,” Schmid said. “There’s outside backs on each team that see a lot of the ball that are important in the team’s build-up and important in the team’s final third play as well. From that standpoint, we feel that’s something Johansson can add to our team.”
His experience with his club and country also make him a valuable commodity for the Sounders as they look to improve on their defense and their ability to play the ball from their back four.
“When you can add a player of that quality who is confident with the ball, able to connect those passes out of the back and can build a good relationship with Mauro Rosales and help supply him the ball and support him in the right moments, that’s important in the modern game to help break down opposing defenses,” Schmid said. “Teams are much quicker and more organized in the back than they were years ago, so you need more variability if you want to break them down.”
This could be a big season for Johansson, too.
A successful start to the season for him could mean a call in to the Swedish National Team for the European Championships this June in Poland and Ukraine.
The move to MLS won’t hinder Johansson from consideration, which was important in his decision to play in Seattle.
“That’s one of the things that I wanted to have clear before I came here - that the manager would look at me when I’m here and still thinks I’m someone who could be in the Championship,” he said. “It’s definitely a goal.”
First things first though, as Johansson will learn the finer points of the Sounders FC’s brand of soccer. That will start with a full training session on Thursday.