Sounders expect Johansson to be upgrade over Riley

With franchise original James Riley gone to Chivas USA after being left exposed in last month’s Expansion Draft, the Seattle Sounders front office wanted a player who was more capable with the ball at his feet and less prone to turnovers.

After flirtations with several other potential candidates, they believe they found that player – and then some – in defender Adam Johansson after agreeing to terms with the Swede this week.

“It’s tough to lose James, but I think Adam, with his international experience, I think he can push that position even further with the amount of touches that our outside backs get,” Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson told reporters in a conference call on Friday.

“I feel very confident in having Adam come and help start our attack and defend and shut players down. He’s a good all-round player, so I think that’s an improvement there.”

A part-time player with the Swedish national team, the former IFK Göteborg captain described as someone with good endurance whose “crosses are quite good.” The 28-year-old Johansson could form a potentially potent combination with MLS Newcomer of the Year Mauro Rosales, who played the majority of his minutes at right midfield.

Erik Friberg, who recently transferred back to Sweden to start a family, spoke with Johansson about playing in the United States. Johansson said his countryman had nothing but good things to say about the city and the club.

“I would say that he influenced me," said Johansson, who also spoke to New York Red Bulls coach Hans Backe about MLS before accepting the offer. According to Johansson, Backe compared the level of play in MLS to the Dutch first division.

Henderson, who maintains close connections to Scandinavia, said the club first started observing Johansson back in late 2009. With the Swede’s contract coming to an end, Seattle were able to secure his services on a free transfer.

The Sounders may increase their Scandinavian contingent in the near future – the club is rumored to be close to a deal with 23-year-old Danish midfielder Christian Sivebaek.

Seattle are also in conversations with Trinidadian youth international Cordell Cato, Henderson added, but nothing is yet official. The 19-year-old Cato trialed with the Sounders briefly during the summer.

“Nothing is finalized with him, but he is a player that we’re talking with and looking to see if there’s a possibility to get him into our group,” Henderson said.