“Were you surprised that Columbus left you unprotected?”
“Yes. Yes, I’d be lying if I said no.”
The answer came almost before the question was finished. The last few days had been a whirlwind for Mohammed Saeid. When I spoke to him at Minnesota United’s media day on Thursday, he’d only been in the state for two days.
The Loons selected Saeid with their third pick in the Expansion draft. This was not something the player saw coming.
“[This is] all new to me...I didn’t know what just happened,” But the Swedish-born midfielder was excited by his new opportunity in Minnesota.
“I was happy that I got chosen. I feel appreciated by someone. Hopefully I can repay the faith he had in me on the field.”
Did he know much about Minnesota before being selected by the Loons?
“Nope. nothing. I had to look it up after the expansion draft.”
But the climate here won’t be bothering the Scandanavian native too much. When asked what he thought of coming to such a cold state, he said it was fine and that he would still be running outside in this weather back home.
Saeid brings a wide array of experience to the club. Although he was born in Sweden, he played his youth soccer in England at West Bromwich Albion’s youth academy.
Mo says he was very impressed with soccer infrastructure in England. But the high expectations across the pond, even for youth players, could be a very heavy burden.
“There was so much [pressure] on you as a young kid to perform, even though you can’t win anything yet and you’re not professional yet, even though you get paid. You had a psychologist as a youth team player, just to get through some stuff…you have a lot of pressure, not just from yourself, but from your parents, the coaches, your friends.”
Eventually Saeid would head back to Sweden before making a first-team appearance in the Premier League. After five years playing in the country of his birth, Saeid left his club Örebro SK upon the expiration of his contract and signed for the Columbus Crew in MLS.
With the Crew, Saeid reached the apex of American soccer: the MLS cup. Mo was subbed on in the final, which Columbus would lose to the Portland Timbers 2-1. It was a bitter sweet experience.
“It was nice…it was an experience that you will remember, that you take with you.”
But defeat always stings, and especially so in a final.
“It just felt that, personally, I was the biggest loser. When you get that far, and it’s just that close, and you just can’t reach it…so it took a long time for me to digest it.”
With 50 league appearances for the Crew to his name, Saeid has the second-most MLS experience on the team so far, behind only Collen Warner. He is ready to step in and help his teammates adjust, but he doesn’t think it should be too much of a problem for them.
“They all have experience with different leagues…it’s not like they are just learning to play soccer. I’m sure putting together…the different kinds of experience around the team will be a good thing. I hope to help out with what I can.”
Looking ahead to Year One, Saeid anticipates some growing pains, but expects the club to be able to get through them.
“Most important is that we’re all going in the same direction, and the whole group is together. Everyone has difficult periods. It’s about how you deal with these difficult periods that define your team and how good your team really is.”
Once things start to click, Saeid looks forward to enjoying his soccer in Minnesota, and remains optimistic for how good the team can be.
“You find yourself within the group, and you find your rhythm, and you never know where you could end up, especially with the players we have right now. It could turn out very good. I’m looking forward to it.”