Two days after he was spotted at his first training session with Seattle at Starfire Sports Complex, the Sounders officially announced on Wednesday that they have signed the 28-year-old Spanish midfielder using Targeted Allocation Money. It is a move that Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey says will hopefully fill the second of his team’s two biggest roster needs, following last month’s signing of Dutch right back Kelvin Leerdam.
“I think the two most unsettled spots on our team the first half of the season, for better or for worse, were right back and left wing,” Lagerwey said on Monday. “We had guys that we thought would compete for those spots and potentially lock them down but that’s not what happened. So, what we really want for the second half of the season is stability and more consistent options.
“I think one of the spots Victor will compete for is at left wing in the line of three with [Clint] Dempsey and [Nicolas] Lodeiro. Certainly we like that he’s a versatile player. We believe he can play anywhere in that band of three.”
Rodriguez spoke with Seattle reporters through a translator for the first time following the Sounders’ practice at Starfire on Wednesday, echoing Lagerwey’s assessment that he could capably slot anywhere in the band of attacking midfielders in the Sounders’ 4-2-3-1 formation.
“I consider myself pretty easy on the ball,” Rodriguez said. “I like to have the ball and I believe I can bring forward a lot of assists for the team and hopefully a few goals here and there as well. I’m very familiar with all three, whether it’s left, right or the middle. I feel comfortable in all of them.”
Standing at 5-foot-7 and 154 pounds, Rodriguez said the biggest adjustment as he acclimates to his new surroundings might be the increased physicality of play in MLS. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said on Wednesday that Seattle’s video department is putting together a montage for Rodriguez of some other similarly-built MLS playmakers who have found success -- including FC Dallas’ Mauro Diaz and former Real Salt Lake great Javier Morales.
For his part, Rodriguez said he feels like he’s coming to Seattle at a point in his career where he can add whatever elements to his game might be necessary.
“I’m a pretty small guy but I’m not shying away from tackle,” Rodriguez said. “If what I need to do for the team is be there and get into 50-50 tackles, that’s fine by me.
“I’m 28-years-old right now,” he added. “On one side that says I have the experience to know where my strengths and my weaknesses lie. But at the same time, I’m young enough that I can still improve on those things. This is something where I can use both of those to better my abilities and to amount to this new challenge.”