HOUSTON—This first Thanksgiving celebration should prove plentiful for Gustav Svensson. The Seattle Sounders midfielder is coming off a week only topped in the personal annals by the birth of his son and the genesis of his wedding.
The Swedish national first helped his country defeat Italy to book a place at the 2018 World Cup and then scored a crucial away goal for Seattle, one that ultimately decided Leg 1 of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Western Conference Championship against the Houston Dynamo.
“Looking back this is going to be a very good memory in my life,” Svensson said.
Svensson came off the bench in the two-legged UEFA matches against Italy but against Houston, where he started in place of the injured Ozzie Alonso, he went the full 90.
“I put the Swedish game aside just to focus on this game; we knew that it was going to be a difficult game so I’m just happy to help the scoring,” Svensson said. “I know that’s not always easy for the guys who are supposed to score so I’m happy that I could help.”
And that Svensson has done for the Sounders the entire season, his first with the club. The midfielder started 30 games and logged 2,645 minutes of action while shuffling between midfield spots and even playing as a defender when called upon.
Svensson's body of work in Seattle, and Sweden, hasn’t gone unnoticed by his head coach, Brian Schmetzer.
“[Gustav] was a big part of that game in Italy and pushed his team into the World Cup. And he’s done a tremendous job for us all season long,” Schmetzer said.
“You can tell he has a veteran presence. He’s a very strong, physical player but he also has a good touch. His passing is very good so we are really, really pleased to have found him in the offseason. We’re very happy that he’s here.”
Riding this current soccer high, Svensson hopes the Sounders prove similarly aggressive in Leg 2, even riding a 2-0 lead that forces Houston to win by 2 if the Dynamo have designs on advancement.
“I hope we go for more goals. I hope we don’t just stay there and control the game,” Svensson said. “I want us to push forward. I want us to show our fans that we can score more goals at home.
“We have a couple days now to prepare ourselves. First, we are going to have Thanksgiving. My first Thanksgiving in America, so that’s going to be fun.”
He has much to be thankful for. It's been that kind of week.