Sounders' Sivebaek brings more than size to flanks

TUKWILA, Wash. — The first thing that struck Sigi Schmid was Christian Sivebæk’s size.

“He’s a big boy, isn’t he?” Schmid joked after Tuesday’s training session.

At 6-foot-3 and listed at 195 pounds, Sivebæk boasts a physical presence few Sounders can match. And although the 23-year-old Dane can certainly contribute in aerial duels, he’s quick to point out that size is just one piece of the puzzle.

“I have the height to go in for some duels in the air, so that’s something I want to bring to the team,” Sivebæk said. “But I’m more than just a tall player—I’ll bring more than that.”

The latest in a growing line of Scandinavians in Seattle, the midfielder learned about the Sounders and Major League Soccer through Danny Califf, the current Philadelphia Union player and Sivebæk’s former teammate of at FC Midtjylland in Denmark. The Sounders first saw Sivebæk in person at the 2010 La Manga Cup in Spain.

Although there was mutual interest, he had just re-upped his contract for another year and was not available. When the two sides started talking again last summer, the groundwork was laid for Sivebæk’s arrival this winter.  

After spending eight years at his previous club, Sivebæk was ready for a dramatic change.

“I just wanted a new experience,” he told reporters. “I thought I needed some new motivation and some new experiences. I saw some DVDs from some of the games and I like the level. I think the level is at least as the same level as Denmark, so I thought I could go here and develop as a player—hopefully get a lot of matches and show myself off.”

In Sivebæk, the Sounders have acquired a wing player with an aggressive mindset. Whether taking players one-on-one or crossing in balls, he prefers to start from a wide position where he can use his speed to his advantage. Sivebæk lists right and left midfield as his favored positions, but noted he can also play right back in a pinch.

In a crowded midfield that includes Mauro Rosales, Steve Zakuani, Lamar Neagle and Álvaro Fernández in the wide positions, Sivebæk faces a difficult battle for minutes. A change in system left him out of the lineup last autumn, so his top priority is regaining his fitness.

As he returns to playing shape, he’s excited to get a foothold with his new team.

“[Seattle] was my first priority all the way through, even though I had some other options,” Sivebæk said. “I like the way the club was. The stadium, the fans, the facilities—it was all great.”