But in his team debut in Leg 2 of the Sounders’ CONCACAF Champions League matchup with Santa Tecla at CenturyLink Field on Thursday, the Norwegian midfielder showed he knows how to make an entrance.
Eikrem came on as a substitute in the second half of Thursday’s match with the Sounders trailing 2-1 on aggregate. By the time the final whistle sounded, he had helped facilitate two goals and scored another himself, helping the Sounders to a 4-0 second-leg blowout and 5-2 aggregate triumph over Santa Tecla that puts them through to the CCL quarterfinals.
“I said earlier in preseason that we liked [Eikrem] because he was goal dangerous,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said after the game. ”You need to have goal-dangerous players in those positions to take some of the load off the guys in the middle of the field. He’s a very good passer, his vision’s good. I thought overall he’s just a very, very talented soccer player. Just as soon as he gets accustomed to the league and players, I think he will become even better.”
Sounders striker Will Bruin, who scored the 48th-minute opener that opened the floodgates on Thursday, said he felt Eikrem’s influence almost immediately after he entered the game for center back Tony Alfaro after the halftime break.
“When Magnus came on, he’s so calm and composed on the ball,” Bruin said. “He picks out great passes and when he’s on the ball we know he’s going to get a pass going forward. So it was good to get some minutes with him.”
For the Sounders, it was an especially welcome sight given the devastating blow they were dealt in the first leg of the series in El Salvador, when forward Jordan Morris was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Eikrem’s prowess as a facilitator was on full display on Thursday and his skill-set looked to be an ideal compliment to Bruin and forward Clint Dempsey, as well as fellow midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, chemistry Eikrem said should only continue to grow as they train together more.
“I’ve been training with them for a long time now,” Eikrem said of his new teammates. “They’re very good players, so getting to play with them just makes my life so much better. Good players usually find each other and they’ve been playing at the highest level for so many years and so being part of the same team, they make all our lives [easier]. That’s what I try to do as well, just learn from them.”