Sounders FC trains for first time as MLS Cup Champs

The Seattle Sounders announced on Monday the signing of Swedish defensive midfielder Gustav Svensson.

Svensson, 29, joins the Sounders from Chinese side Guangzhou R&F. He is currently with the team for its preseason training in Tucson, Ariz.

“We’re excited to add Gustav to our roster,” said Sounders General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “He brings a wealth of experience, a track record of success and versatility to our team and we’re eager to see how he impacts our squad in 2017.”

Svensson still had at least one more season left on his Guangzhou contract, but the Chinese Super League recently changed its rules regarding foreign players. Last Monday, the Chinese Football Association announced that clubs would only be allowed to field a maximum of three non-Chinese players per match. Teams were previously allowed to field one non-Chinese player from the Asian confederation and three non-Asian players per game.

The rule will go into effect on March 4, which is the start of the 2017 CSL season, so some current foreign players in the CSL are in limbo.

“Everything happened very fast, but it turned out really well,” Svensson said on Monday. “When I came to Seattle I fell in love with the city and the club.

“I had some friends play here before, both in MLS and in Seattle, so I know a lot about it.”

Svensson is a 10-year professional who has also had stints in Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine. He has six caps for the Swedish national team, with his most recent appearance coming in 2016.

Svensson is a hard-working and tactical presence in the center of the park who keeps possession and sets up the pass before the pass. He should fit in nicely with the Sounders’ defensive midfield crop, joining Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan and 2017 second-round MLS SuperDraft pick Dominic Oduro.

“Good lads,” Svensson said of his new teammates. “They invited me here with open arms. The trainings here are good quality with good tempo.”

The Sounders will take on the Portland Timbers in a Desert Diamond friendly on Feb. 4 before scrimmaging the San Jose Earthquakes on Feb. 7.

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