Here’s most of what Sounders FC general manager Garth Lagerwey had to say today about the club signing of 31-year-old Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz:
On the signing) Really good player. Good pedigree. Played in really good leagues: Bundesliga, La Liga, his last two stints. He’s a guy Chris Henderson and the guys have tracked for a number of years and we’re very familiar with. I believe that they made a play at him earlier in this career (around 2013) but was available now at a value price, and we stepped in and took it. A couple of things that augur well for him, we believe, in terms of transition. We’ve talked about our skepticism about midseason acquisitions, but Andreas’ English is perfect. He’s lived in a number of countries: played in Greece, played in Spain, where he’s outside of his comfort zone, outside of his home country, and we think he’s going to adapt very, very well. And coming from the level he was playing at, we have no doubt about his footballing ability.
On his age) In general do we want to make the group younger? I suppose yeah, But we also want to win the title, and this is a guy we think is going to help us win the title. If at 33 or 34 he can’t do the business anymore? Fair enough. But we’re getting him at 31. Hopefully we get a couple of good years out of him. He’s highly motivated to come here. He certainly could have had more money to stay in Europe, and those are the kind of hungry guys that we like. And if you have that kind of heart, sometimes it can make up for some weary legs
Of if this is a win-now move) If you sign a 31-year-old as opposed to a 21-year-old, I suppose. We’re signing him to compete for starting minutes right away. He’s been training on his own. He hasn’t played a match obviously, I think in six to eight weeks. So I think it’s unreasonable to think he’ll play right away. That’s why I’m careful to say he’ll be competing for starting minutes. But we haven’t had the production we need from midfield, and I think he’s going to really help us. … I think Andreas can play a number of years yet. He’s a super-fit guy. He’s got a body type that can run.
On possible timeline) We are hopeful he will physically be in the United States this week. He’s going through the visa process right now, and that’s stuff that we don’t control. It’s possible he’ll be here before the LA game, but it’s also possible he won’t.
On his likely position) He’s a midfielder, attacking midfielder. He’s left-footed. I think he can play more likely for us one of the two wider midfield spots, based on how he’s lined up abroad. But again we’ll get him in with the group, see how it goes. Certainly he’s capable of playing in the middle. He’s technical enough, he’s skillful enough. I think that might be Erik Friberg’s best role so far based on what we’ve seen from him. It’s about getting the pieces in and fitting them together.
On motivation) We always react to what we see on the field, and you have to tweak your plan as you go. And we haven’t performed in the last six weeks. We need to acknowledge that. I still think what I said a month ago is true, which is the only guys that are going to get us out of this are the guys that are here. We’re talking about adding a very, very good player in Andreas, and caviating it with things like, ‘He hasn’t played in two months.’ We have eight games in August – seven more left. We need the guys here to perform. We need to improve our team at the same time.
On if he can play forward) I don’t think that’s his best position. That’s not why we’re signing him. We’re signing him because we think we need a little bit more creativity in our midfield, we need a little bit more chance creation. Specifically he hits a lot of the dead balls for the teams that he’s played on. We’ve scored I think three goals all year on set pieces. That’s not good enough, so we have to have somebody who can strike a better ball from corner kicks and from set pieces, and we think he can provide that in addition to a little more creative spark. Where have we fallen down in the last month? Defense before last week has been pretty good. We haven’t generated chances, we haven’t been dangerous, we haven’t been able to push forward numbers in midfield. I think Andreas helps us with all of those things.
On next top priority) I think I’d still ideally like to sign an attacking player. We’ve heave a dearth of chances, we’ve had a dearth of goals. So those are the two things that we’re trying to tackle. Whether that proves possible or not we’ll see.