We look at why MLS side Columbus Crew have looked to Sweden to provide it with some fresh blood for their side this season
Swedish gambling laws are not all they should be, just ask the EU, however I very much doubt that it prevented many hardened fans from backing their man Zlatan Ibrahimovic on ComeOn! Sportsbook and the like as he took to the field for PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue final. Firm favorites ahead of time PSG went into the game with considerable confidence, but even that probably didn’t prepare them for the onslaught that their Swedish striker decided to unleash.
He might have a niggling heel injury, and indeed have been punished with a four-match by the French League just this week, but against Bastia he was every inch the superstar. Reduced to ten men after the sort of tackle that gives football a bad name, PSG’s hapless opposition were then treated to the sort of lesson in skills and thrills that explains precisely why half the premier league claims to be trying to buy the 33 year old Swede.
Swede Goes West
• Mohammed Saeid goes to Columbus
• MLS is a “growing league”
• Crew favored to beat City
That ban, which he described as a “disgrace to football”, has pushed the rumor mill into overdrive with all sorts of whispers about his contract not being renewed, about a move to the English Premier League, about PSG wanting to “cash in” on their prize asset given how much the French league is, however much they deny it, all about one team. Which, if any, prove to be true remains to be seen as PSG, for their sins, concentrate on the Champions League.
“He has had a difficult season, but he’s still capable of special moments.” said Laurent Blanc the boss at PSG of Ibrahimovic before the game against Bastia, Zlatan, a player who quite rightly can grin like the only man in the world with a casino license, then went out and proved him entirely right, almost aggressively so. Perhaps that four-match ban spurred him on, but whatever the motivation his absence in the side will be noticeable.
Mohammed Is On The Move
Of course whilst Ibrahimovic is the best known player from Sweden right now, the nordic nation has constantly produced a stream of excellent players that have graced teams all over the world, and that has meant there’s been a lot of options if you like to bet on sport in Sweden with fellow countrymen involved in sports and leagues around the world. As a source of talent Sweden is rarely overlooked when team bosses go shopping so the latest to make a move should surprise no one.
It has been a rough ride for Mohammed Saeid who started out, somewhat unsuccessfully at West Brom, a time about which he’s said, “I don’t really know why it didn’t work out, guess they had a lot of players. As an 18 year-old when you get told you aren’t going to make it at a club you’ve been with for a long time, you’re a little bit down. It’s every boys dream to make it as a soccer player.” Perhaps luckily for all concerned he didn’t, however, give up at this disappointment.
“I had a lot of trouble in West Brom,” he admits as he explains why he moved back to Sweden, why being back near family and friends helped him to carry on, saying that once back where he began his playing career “I started liking soccer again.” Which showed in his 8 goals that first season with old club BK Forward, and got bigger clubs interested in him. Three seasons with Orebro SK got him 68 appearances in the Altsvenskan League, and 7 goals with them.
“It was good.” He remembers cheerfully, “My first season nobody really expected me to start and I started nearly every game. I played really good and it continued. I was a starter for three years.” Three years of experience that will prove invaluable as he takes the next step, grateful to Orebro for what they’ve allowed him to learn. “Axel Kjäll. He’s Assistant Manager for Örebro…..he was the one that restored faith in me and made soccer fun. I have a lot to thank [him for].”
From Orebro To The MLS
It may not just be Saeid himself who end up being thankful for those three seasons in the Swedish league, as Saeid is now set to join MLS side, Columbus Crew, which is likely to be quite a different kettle of fish. “It’s a growing league.” Mohammed says evenly, “There a lot of people watching the games and the soccer’s improving.” Which may well indicate just how far US Soccer has managed to shed it’s “retirees only” image.
MLS hasn’t, however shed all of it’s razzamatazz and Saeid’s first three games in the US have demonstrated that to him. “”There’s a lot of differences. The way we go about how matchdays go, it’s a lot different to Europe. How the fans gather together to go and watch the games or whether it’s us as a team traveling for long distances, so it’s a lot of differences. For fans there’s a lot of stuff going on just before games to encourage the fans to come to games. It’s not really like that in most European Leagues.”
There’s also a difference in playing style, particularly the slightly rougher edges to the games.
“Yeah it is physical.” He agrees. “There’s a lot of small players in the league, but I guess we just have to be more clever and use our brains more. It’s physical and the referee’s don’t give you all the decisions, but that’s like that everywhere.” Which is true to some degree, but some of us might be gambling news reports may one day include it having grated on him after a season or two.
Columbus Crew are up against Orlando City next and you can get 1.86 on them winning whilst their opponents only manage 4.00, with a draw nearly as unlikely at 3.30 according to ComeOn! Sportsbook who provide all the MLS betting you could want, including being able to back LA Galaxy and their Swede Stefan Ishizaki, as they take on Kansas City with the 1.62 odds in their favor vs City’s 5.30. The MLS is benefiting from Swedish talent more and more, a trend likely to continue.