FIFA World Cup

Back in Seattle after FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Gustav Svensson is focused on crucial FC Dallas match

Svensson training

It seemed so normal to watch Gustav Svensson train at Starfire Sports Complex on Thursday morning.


Wearing a Sounders beanie and training gear, the midfielder took part in drills and buzzed around the damp pitch with his teammates, collectively focused on Sunday’s big match against FC Dallas (4:30 p.m. PT / FS1, FOX Deportes, KIRO 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360 AMTICKETS).


Yet, just two days ago, Svensson was at the 55,000-seat Amsterdam Arena, competing in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier for Sweden against the Netherlands. Despite a 2-0 loss to the Dutch, Svensson, who entered the match as a reserve in the second half, and Sweden advanced to the UEFA Second Round, which is a home-and-home playoff to earn qualification to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.


“It’s a good feeling,” Svensson told media after training. “We had the goal before World Cup qualification to go to the playoff. We were very happy to be able to get second in that group.”


Such is the life for a small group of Sounders, who must navigate the schedules for both club and country. This recent window has been especially difficult, with crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers interwoven amidst an important home stretch of the MLS regular season.


“You come back here with extra motivation and now your focus is 100 percent on [FC Dallas],” Svensson said.


When Svensson takes the field on Sunday, it will be just five days after he played the same game on the other side of the world in a much different competition. Tuesday’s contest against the Netherlands was likely the final international competition for Dutch star Arjen Robben.


“You better ask him what it’s like to play against me,” Svensson said with a laugh.


“No, he is a very good player. He is one of the best I have ever played against. It’s impossible to get the ball away from him. It was his last game for the national team, so it was emotional for him. He’s on another level, he’s a top player.”


In addition to Svensson, defender Román Torres (Panama) was at Starfire this morning and addressed media, but didn’t train. Nicolás Lodeiro (Uruguay), Clint Dempsey (United States) and Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago) weren’t at training but are expected to join the club ahead of Sunday's match. 


“They will all be available [for FC Dallas],” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said. “They’re good.”

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