New Sounders midfielder Victor Rodriguez says he's willing to play anywhere and learn new things, while coach Brian Schmetzer has had him watch video of fouls and other skilled playmakers to help him adapt to new league.
Sounders midfielder Victor Rodriguez says he’s prepared to play anywhere in the attacking midfield the team needs him.
Rodriguez had recently played largely on the right wing, but the Sounders would like to use him on the left to start things off. The Sounders officially added him to their club on Wednesday once the proper paperwork cleared, but say he still needs his work visa finalized and won’t play this Saturday when they visit Minnesota United FC.
“Most of my career, I’ve played in offensive positions, so I’m very familliar with all three whether it’s left, right or the middle,” Rodriguez said, through an interpreter. “I feel pretty comfortable in all of them and at the end of the day it’s down to the coach where he wants me to play and what the strengths he sees in me are.”
Rodriguez played for a terrible Sporting Gijon side last year in Spain’s La Liga that finished 7-21-10 and got relegated to the second division. He said joining a team with a shot at winning a title was important to him.
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‘I’m very interested in winning titles, so coming to Seattle to a team that’s very competitive was very high up on my list,” he said. “I heard about the city and I obviously heard about my teammates, so I’m very excited about joining a winning team.”
That team, as it does with all players, will need Rodriguez to focus on defense a little more than he’s probably used to at just 5-foot-7, 154 pounds. But he says he’ll do whatever he needs to.
“Obviously, it’s not my strong suit — I’m a pretty small guy,” he said. “But I’m not shying away from tackles. If what I need to do for the team is to be there and get into 50-50 tackles, that’s fine by me. Obviously, teams operate with individuals that have different capacities. Not all teams have 100 percent defending players. But at the same time, I think that the people that are strong defensively can help me with my weaknesses defending. Hopefully, practising a lot of that and not shying away from them, I’ll be a good asset to the team as well.”
Though the Sounders signed Rodriguez, they have not abandonned their pursuit of Dynamo Kiev midfielder Derlis Gonzalez, who started in his team’s 2-0 loss in a third-round Champions League game on Wednesday. Sources say both sides expect talks could go right down to the wire as they attempt to negotiate a transfer fee ahead of the Aug. 9 deadline for doing so.
Due to the talks going down the wire, it’s unlikely the Sounders have a fallback player they’d sign in lieu of Gonzalez at this point. Rodriguez and last month’s addition, right back Kelvin Leerdam are both Targetted Allocation Money (TAM) level signings while Gonzalez would be for bigger Designated Player money.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer says he wants to ease Rodriguez into his Major League Soccer career and let him adapt to the style of play. The team has already had Rodriguez watch video of last Saturday’s game at Los Angeles to review some of the more physical fouls against playmakers like Nocolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey.
He’ll also be shown film of other technical players who’ve arrived from elsewhere and had MLS success.
“We will show him and educate him,” he said. “You (media) guys heard that. He’s willing to learn. Even at 28, he’s still willing to learn new things. I think this is an opportunity. To me, it’s an opportunity for him to come over here and add a few pieces to his game that might help us, but then help him in the future as well.”