What is it they say about buses, you wait forever for one and then two come at once. It seems like it is the same for Swedish players in the MLS. As the season came to a close with Toronto lifting their first MLS Cup, only three Swedes were plying their trade at the top level of American soccer. Gustav Svensson has been lauded by mlssoccer.com for his great performances in Seattle, Mohammed Saeid has impressed at Colorado and his teammate Axel Sjöberg has done a great job of establishing himself as a steady and solid defensive presence.
However for a soccer mad country like Sweden with a domestic league chocked full of great players always excited to move abroad it is surprising that MLS clubs have not taken a risk and tried to shop around the Allsvenskan more.
If anything players have been coming to Sweden from the US as much as going the other way with Mix Diskerud’s move to IFK Gothenburg being a prime example. However it seems as if MLS clubs are now willing to take the plunge and gamble on Allsvenskan players. If you are feeling as lucky as these MLS clubs then crapsformoney.com is a great place to play craps from wherever you are. It has a free section where you can play just for fun before deciding to play for money. The MLS’s newest Scandinavian recruits will be hoping their moves don’t turn out to be crap. However, this new influx of Northern Europe talent began not with a player but with a manager.
The San Jose Earthquakes needed a new coach and turned to Sweden to recruit someone to take them to the next level. They decided to think outside of the box and try a new market in order to find themselves a coach that could make deep and lasting chances. Someone who could implement a style and bring something fresh not just to San Jose but to MLS in general. As we noted here at worldsoccertalk.com, the MLS Cup suffered a 43% drop in the number of people watching compared to last year. Thus MLS will be hoping bringing in new coaches and players from overseas will bring the viewers back.
The Quakes went with Mikael Stahre as their new manager giving the Swede a chance to spread his wings and try to bring the success he managed in his home country over to the United States. He began his managerial career a small Swedish club called Väsby United impressing enough there to take the reins at Stockholm giant AIK with whom he won a league and cup double. He then tried his hand abroad in Greece but after only 7 games there he came back to Sweden and won the cup with IFK Gothenburg. Another spell abroad, this time in China was more successful than his time in Greece and set him up brilliantly to return to Gothenburg, this time taking BK Hacken within touching distance of a European place.
San Jose clearly saw enough and announced on the 24th of November that he would be taking over in California. Having a Swedish coach in the league seems to have convinced Swedish players to come to with Joel Qwiberg being one of Stahre’s first signings. Away from San Jose Anton Tinnerholm, one of the best players in last seasons Allsvenskan will be present in New York next season while Gabriel Somi is coming from Arsenal’s Europa League opponents Ostersund to join New England. Arguably the biggest signing was sealed on the 20th of December with the top scorer in last season’s Allsvenskan, Magnus Eriksson deciding that it was time for a change. He was one of the best players in the league and his singing is a real coup for San Jose.
While it is hard to tell if these players will all succeed it is amazing that in a very short number of weeks the number of Swedes in the MLS has doubled. It cannot all be down to one coach coming to the US but that does seem to have made a difference. It will be fantastic to watch and see if these players are the start of a real influx of Northern European talent to the United States and Canada.