Photo credit: Bild, Bildbyran
I was able to catch up with Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson the other day. Here is some of the brief Q&A, with mention of new midfielder Erik Friberg (pictured above) and some insights into international scouting.
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(You were credited with spotting Friberg on a scouting trip. What was the process of finding him and bringing him in?) “We looked at a bunch of players in Scandinavia at that time, and that was late April-early May. I went over there and watched six or seven games; just had a car and was driving up and down the west coast of Sweden watching a bunch of games. He was one of the players on the list that we were looking at and we have an agency we were working with there, which had been involved with MLS a little bit in the past. Had a chance to see Erik play — he’s a very smart player. I think he’ll compete for a position. He can play three of the four positions in midfield. I think with his work rate and technique, he’s a guy that can really help us.”
(A lot of people look to throw out comparisons when dealing with a new player. People joke about Ljungberg comparisons because of the Swedish connection, but is there anyone that you can liken Friberg to?) “I’d say his engine and his work rate, physically, a little bit like Brad Evans. A little bit like Frankie Hejduk, Brian Mullan — that type of energy. Soccer-wise he’s a thinker, so maybe a little bit like a Brian Carroll-type, seeing the game ahead of the game. Peter Vagenas, the way he sees the game. A really bright awareness of, if he needs to take a free kick, when to hit it. The way he reads the game. I think those are good comparisons.”
(You guys have done well scouting internationally and finding impact players, are there certain constants you look for as you scour the globe?) “A lot of it is out of your hands when you go and look at players. You’ve seen good players who play in their league and when they come to our league, for some reason it doesn’t work. I think the majority of our guys, we’ve been fortunate, have worked. Maybe the work off the field to get them acclimated as soon as possible, I think that part helps. Helping them settle in, helping them with the language, all that stuff really helps our coaching staff get them into the team quickly. So that part’s important. And I think from playing in the league so long there are certain things that I know might fit into the league. Work rate, technical ability, and it depends at the time which position we’re looking for. I’ve known Sigi for so long, I think we see the game similarly. And Adrian and I working together is great as well, being able to go talk about a player, debate back and forth. To be able to travel with an owner is pretty incredible for scouting players.”