By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
Forward/midfielder Eidur Gudjohnsen has played with world-class clubs such as Chelsea and Barcelona.
This week, he is training with Seattle Sounders FC as club and player determine if they offer the right fit for him to continue his 18-season professional career.
“This one was a little bit out of the blue,” general manager Adrian Hanauer said Wednesday. “We were contacted by his representation, and any time you get a chance to look at a player of Eidur’s quality … you jump at it. He seems like a really good guy: wants to be here and show what he can do; likes this area, has been here a couple of times to the Northwest. We’ll see.”
Gudjohnsen’s representatives did not make him available to speak to reporters after the Wednesday session.
However, coach Sigi Schmid said he saw flashes of what the veteran could contribute.
“You can tell he’s a good player,” Schmid said. “You can tell by the touches and the movement and so forth. … Everyone brings a different quality and a different dimension. He’s a strong guy. He can post up. He can hold the ball. He finds his little options off of that. But for the first day, he’s got to settle in. It’s tough traveling 13 hours.”
The plan is for Gudjohnsen to train with the club through Friday, watch the Sounders play Chivas USA at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, and then play with the Sounders in their MLS Reserve League match against Chivas at 11 a.m. Sunday at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
“We like to have players come in and see the place, get to know the players, coaches, owners, managers, neighborhoods, schools districts: educate themselves as much as possible,” Hanauer said. “It’s great for us, as well, because we can educate ourselves on the player off the field and on the field. … We have a lot of talk left to do, but we didn’t bring him in to sign him next year, necessarily. We brought him in because we think there’s a chance we could still do something this year.”
Gudjohnsen, 33, was born in Reykjavic, Iceland, and has 24 goals in 68 appearances with the national team.
He began his professional career with Valur Reykjavic in 1994 before going on to clubs such Bolton, Monaco, Tottenham, Stoke City and Fulham. In 2004, he recorded a goal and an assist in Chelsea’s 4-2 friendly win over Celtic in Seattle. In 2009, he played the second half of Barcelona’s 4-0 friendly win over the Sounders.
He signed a two-year contract with AEK Athens last summer, just as goalkeeper Michael Gspurning was leaving the Greek league for MLS.
“I saw the game when he scored against Xanthi, but I wasn’t playing in this game,” Gspurning said. “… What I saw in the game was great, impressive.”
However, in October, Gudjohnsen suffered a fractured tibia and fibula — the same injuries suffered last season by Sounders midfielder Steve Zakuani — and he missed the remainder of the season.
In July, player and club reached an agreement to end the contract. His search for a new club led him this week to MLS and Seattle.
“Obviously he’s a talented player with a great pedigree,” Schmid said. “We’re honored as a club that he would consider our team. … It just shows the growth of the league and the recognition of the league around the world.”
David Estrada (foot) and Andy Rose (ribs) participated in group training Wednesday, while defender Osvaldo Alonso (head) went through light individual work.
Schmid said Alonso was scheduled for a concussion test Wednesday afternoon, and the club was confident he will be cleared to return. … Schmid said starting forward Eddie Johnson did not accompany the team on either leg of its Trinidad/Texas trip last week partly due to an adductor issue and partly to give him a break before the final eight weeks of the MLS season. … Schmid said Leo Gonzalez is having a season that ranks him among the top left backs in MLS.