Gustav Svensson and Stefan Frei, November 2, 2017
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Castillo: Gustav Svensson could be Sounders' unsung playoffs hero

Monday’s Sweden-Italy World Cup Qualifying playoff still has social media timelines super-heated, so out of respect for Italy fans, we don’t have to recap any of that drama again. (And please, no one worry too much about World Cup NIT tournament jokes, they’re jokes – this is not actually a thing happening in reality apparently the jury is still out on this one.) 

But as a Sweden Appreciator, I feel compelled to point out an undersung cog in the operations: Gustav Svensson, who, I will pedantically repeat as long as Sweden hangs in the World Cup, plays for the Seattle Sounders. Indeed, anyone watching the upcoming Western Conference Championship as the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs get set to return would do well to watch for him as the Sounders look to crush the Houston Dynamo’s dreams. 

What Svensson lacks in flash, he makes up for in pure versatility for the Sounders, particularly since captain Ozzie Alonso’s been sidelined by injury. While the Swede isn’t a dead-on replacement for the latter’s skill as a defensive midfielder, he’s proven able to switch between filling in multiple midfield spots and filling in at right or center back.

It’s perhaps that chameleonic ability to blend into his surroundings that makes it easy for casual observers to almost forget he’s there. But while they were glazing over his contributions, Svensson's put in some 2,701 minutes regular season and playoff minutes with the Sounders in 2017, starting 30 of 34 matches in which he appeared – which have included 14 wins. Considering this is, after all, a team sport, that solid contribution deserves its due. He’ll be crucial to a positive result for the Sounders in Leg 1 of the West Championship in Houston next Tuesday (9:30 pm ET, FS1 and Fox Deportes in US, TSN and TVAS in Canada). 

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