Gustav Svensson rejoins Sounders after around-the-world journey with Swedish national team

Sounders midfielder Gustav Svensson is already back training with the team, just two days after playing in a 4-0 win for Sweden at Belarus in World Cup qualifying play

Sounders midfielder Gustav Svensson realizes that, at age 30, this upcoming chance to play in a FIFA World Cup could be his first and last.

So when he received the surprise news a couple weeks back that Sweden wanted him on its final World Cup qualifying-round roster for games this month, he requested that the Sounders let him leave early. Doing so meant he wouldn’t play in a first-place battle against Portland, but would be able to join the Swedish side for training in Sofia, Bulgaria, ahead of a group qualifying match there.

“It was difficult for me, because I wanted to play against Portland, I wanted to help the (Sounders) team as much as possible,” Svensson said after rejoining the Sounders on Tuesday for training in Tukwila. “But doing that would have pretty much have made my chances of playing for the national team in a game over there at the bare minimum.”

Svensson needed to fly from Seattle to Frankfurt, Germany, then catch a connecting flight to Sofia. Leaving after the Portland game on a Sunday would have had him arrive Tuesday afternoon of last week, miss the team’s first training session in Bulgaria and then have to do a final pregame workout Wednesday, still jetlagged from the 10-hour time difference.

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Instead, he got two training sessions in ahead of the Bulgaria match, in which he didn’t play in a 3-2 loss last Thursday. But then, after flying with the team from Sofia to Minsk in Belarus, he subbed on in the 69th minute of Sweden’s 4-0 win on Sunday.

That might not seem like much. But Svensson was auditioning for a new national-team coach he had yet to play for, and who didn’t know much about him. That’s something he hopes to rectify, because he hopes to help Sweden get to next year’s World Cup and make that squad.

“That was good for me, both to show myself in training and stuff and also to get to play a little bit,” he said. “We have more qualifying games, and I hope I get called up again. It’s very difficult. We have a lot of good players.”

Sweden is 5-2-1 and in second place in Group A, one point behind France.

Svensson previously played for Sweden internationally in early 2016, before the coaching change. Back then, he was with IFK Goteborg…

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