Yesterday, the Colorado Rapids announced the signing of German attacker Stefan Aigner, and today it was announced that current defender Axel Sjoberg has been re-signed for a 3-year contract extension with a club option for 2021. Last year, Sjöberg earned MLS Best XI and was one of the three finalists for MLS Defender of the Year. This year, he went out early in the season with a freak injury requiring surgery and has only played six games due to other nagging injuries.
“I actually did a great job recovering from that injury,” Sjöberg said about the surgery. “But probably in hindsight I didn’t take my time and slow down. Once you get on the field, you get so excited after you’ve done all this rehab. and all you want to do is play soccer. It wasn’t like I threw the rehab. away, but I for sure focused a lot on the soccer and I wanted to play every game. Even if it was back-to-back, Wednesday/Saturday games—I wanted to play those and I wanted to train in between. So I got a little bit caught up in that and I wasn’t completely ready.”
But he’s feeling good now and is doing tons of monitoring and listening to his body, so we can expect to see him back in the starting XI on a regular basis.
Even though Sjöberg now admits that he was in contact with the Swedish side and his former club Djurgårdens IF in the offseason (though it wasn’t as serious as the rumors made it out to be), he “loves Sweden, but at this point in my career, I love the US and staying here and playing here. Sweden isn’t the step I want to take right now.”
Luckily, the Rapids want him to stay and play here, too.
Rapids Sporting Director and Interim General Manager Pádraig Smith said that “securing Axel for the next three years was a top priority for us this season. Axel’s level of commitment and work ethic have made him an important member of our team. We have full confidence in Axel’s capabilities and we look forward to his continued contributions for years to come.”
It’s the commitment that he sees from the team that Sjöberg appreciates.
“It was a great show of confidence, and I’ve gotten that feel from the club from the beginning when they drafted me,” he says. “They went up in the draft [in 2015] and traded to get me. Since then, it’s been a continued show of confidence, and I really appreciate that.” He feels that they’ve “got some good guys to build around with this team. The club is doing a lot to get better and I want to be part of that.”
It seems as though being a member of the Colorado Rapids is a perfect fit for Sjöberg. Even though he had an option next year and could have gone somewhere else, “I love Denver as a city and Colorado as a state and I’m really happy to be here. In the end, it was an easy decision for me to re-sign.”