Erik Friberg is back with Sounders FC for a second spell as part of the club. In his first stint – a brief but very successful one – the Swedish midfielder started 23 games as the Rave Green finished second in the league standings in 2011 and won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Earlier this week, Friberg spoke to the media for the first time since coming back to Seattle.
“I’ve been missing it since I left here,” he said. “I’m very excited to play as soon as possible, hopefully. …It will take a couple of weeks to be 100 percent, but I’m feeling pretty good right now.”
Friberg hasn’t played in a competitive match since May, so the 29-year-old spent last week doing extra fitness work and training with S2 while the rest of the First Team was in Chicago. Head Coach Sigi Schmid estimates Friberg is between 75 and 80 percent fit at this point.
Considering the club’s short-term goals of winning the MLS Cup and advancing out of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, Friberg’s arrival comes at an ideal time.
Even when Sounders FC regains all of its players that are currently unavailable due to injury or international duty, Schmid’s team will need all the bodies it can get during an incredibly busy month of August. Seattle is scheduled to play eight games in 30 days, including a trio of midweek Champions League matches. At the end of the month, the Rave Green will host Cascadia rival Portland for their fifth competitive game in 15 days.
In addition to last month’s signing of young midfielder Thomás, who's already played in six matches and started four, the Sounders feel adding Friberg will help ready them for that difficult stretch.
“We felt like we wanted more numbers in that position,” said Garth Lagerwey, Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer. “Obviously we’ve had some injuries there, and we have some older players in those spots as well. It’s a mix of old and young guys. We felt that we wanted a little more experience.
“Those are the guys that do all of the running in our system – all four of those midfielders. We’re going to need a lot of guys to be able to handle that stretch in August.”
Having played all four spots in midfield at some point in his career, Friberg gives the Rave Green some versatility. The 11-year pro does have a preference as to where he slots in, however.
“Of course, I want to play in the middle. That’s where I’ve played for every team,” he said. “Some games I’ve been out wide, but in the last couple of years I’ve been in the middle all the time. When I was here in 2011, almost every game I was in the middle. …It depends where they want to use me.”
Friberg could make his first appearance of the season on Saturday, when the Sounders host Western Conference foe Colorado Rapids. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. on Q13 FOX.