You might remember from last week that Sounders FC filled out its roster by signing trialists Ashani Fairclough and Philip Lund. Each had been with the team for about two months before earning a contract.
Coach Sigi Schmid talked about the additions this week and gave credit to assistant coach Ezra Hendrickson for spotting Lund in a combine, which resulted in a preseason invite. The 23-year-old from Denmark is viewed more as a second forward for Seattle than a wide midfielder.
Schmid described Fairclough as having “big upside” as an undrafted rookie. The former Jamaican youth international is also just 20 years old coming out of college, and he might be a candidate to get loaned to a lower-division team to get playing time.
Both players will count as internationals on the roster. There was some uncertainty over Fairclough since he had a student visa, but Schmid clarified the situation this week in practice. Seattle has six of seven available international slots filled with Lund, Fairclough, Obafemi Martins, Djimi Traore, Mario Martinez and Andy Rose.
Here are some interviews with Fairclough and Lund after Tuesday’s practice:
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(How does it feel to officially be a Sounder?) “It feels great. You speak to your family every day while you’re here, and they encourage you, they motivate you every day, and to finally get it done, it’s a pleasure to be here amongst everyone. It’s just a great feeling to sign my first professional contract.”
(How did you feel about not being drafted?) “I mean every player that got drafted was a quality player. Some of my friends got drafted and I respect everyone who did. Personally, I really would’ve wanted to get drafted, but you don’t get your head down. You come here and put the work in, and I got the same result.”
(Did you have confidence your future would be in professional soccer?) “I did. My coaches spoke to me, my parents spoke to me, I had a personal self belief, and each day in practice I come out and work. … Even though I didn’t get drafted in January, I came here in preseason and I put the work in. I still had that same belief I had in college, and it eventually paid off.”
(What’s it like being a part of this club?) “The fans are great. The fans are great. It’s definitely a very good environment to play in. It’s kind of nerve-wracking playing here for your first professional team with 40,000 fans coming out every day, but it’s still a pleasure to play in front of such great passionate fans, and I’m looking forward to it.”
(Are you still involved with the Jamaican youth national team?) “I captained the U-17s and I played on the U-20s when I was 16, but since then I came to college. So since then I’ve been kind of out of touch. And I can’t play for any youth teams right now because the next tournament will be the Olympics, and I’d be 24 going into the next Olympics. But I’m still waiting for my next opportunity to play for the national team. It can’t be the youth team anymore, only the senior team, but I’m working toward that.”
(Seems like you’re always around Djimi Traore. What’s your relationship like with him?) “I have a great relationship with Djimi. He’s a role model. If you look at his résumé, he’s probably the best person to learn from — especially at my position, as well. So he gives me pointers on how to be a professional, how to be a good center back, how to be a good teammate, and I’ve been living with him for the past month, so that really helps, too — to see his attitude off the field as well as on the field. He’s a great role model and I’m looking forward to spending the next months and years learning from him.”
(You had a strong showing at the Desert Diamond Cup and then you had to wait a while before signing. Were you nervous it might not get done?) “You never know what anyone is thinking. I respect the coaching staff, and they’ve done a great job keeping me here this long. Two months is a long time, but every day I tell myself I won’t leave here knowing I could’ve given five more percent. So even during the time I was waiting after the (Desert Diamond Cup), I still came out here every day and practiced and worked hard, because there’s that period where you don’t know what’s going on, but you still work hard every day. Even though I did having a decent (Desert Diamond Cup) tournament, and I know I can improve and play a lot better, I still came out here every day to work hard. It didn’t matter in the end. It all worked out.”
(How did you end up coming to America for college?) “I was playing for the national team in Jamaica. My coaches at USF came and saw me, and I got a full scholarship. Even though I was being recruited by other top universities, I chose USF for different reasons, and the coaching staff there was great with me. It was a good environment. Leaving Jamaica and coming up, it was still warm, good environment, good climate, and my teammates there were great. So when the coaching staff came to recruit me, I came and I visited, and I loved everything. USF was the place for me.”
(How about the climate here?) “It’s different. (laughs) It’s a lot different than Jamaica and Florida, but guess what, you have to be a professional, right? It gets better though over time. I’m getting used to it. Today is a great day. I’m not used to the 40s and 30s as yet; 50 is a great day for me.”
(Going to be getting on Twitter soon?) “I’m working on it.”
(After being here for two months, how does it feel to be officially signed?) “Yeah, like you said, I’ve been here for two months now, so to finally sign the papers on four-year contract with the Sounders, it’s amazing.”
(Had it been difficult to wait so long?) “Yeah, it was kind of difficult, because I got injured in the beginning. I got sick a week, also. That’s probably why it took so long.”
(What are your thoughts on joining this team?) “It’s amazing for me. It means a lot to me. I’ll develop my play because I’m around good coaches and good players, as well. I’m going to train every day at a high level, so I’m looking forward to that.”
(Do people in Denmark know much about MLS?) “Yeah, actually maybe the past two, three years, MLS has grown big in Denmark, and people are talking about it a lot. People know what MLS is and how good the levels actually are.”
(Were you coming off a serious injury?) “Yeah, before I came here I was injured for six months. When I signed Wednesday, if I think back three months, I couldn’t even run. So it’s a big step for me having not been able to run three months back, but now I’m standing with a Seattle Sounders contract.”
(And you’ve joined Twitter?) “Yeah, I just got on Twitter. Every American has a Twitter profile, so I needed one also.”
(What’s your handle?) “DK_lund. I don’t know actually how it works yet, but I’ll figure it out.”