Nashville SC added to an already strong center-back pool through the SuperDraft. Sondre Norheim, a 6-4 defender out of Syracuse University, was selected with the 18th pick of the third round, adding to Nashville’s elite defense.
“If you saw the board in my office, we had three names written down, ironically, with Koze [Donasiyano], [Tom] Judge, and Sondre [Norheim],” said Nashville SC general manager Mike Jacobs. “The hope was that if one of those guys was available at number 20 we would take them. Even Gary [Smith] was joking before that we just can’t believe we were able to land all three of them.”
A strong defender, Norheim has developed into an attacking threat from set pieces, scoring 10 goals to date in his collegiate career. The 23-year-old Norwegian came through the Viking FK academy before joining Bryne FK, where he played alongside superstar striker Erling Braut Håland. Before joining Syracuse, he amassed over 50 appearances in the lower divisions of the Norwegian soccer pyramid.
He’s also versatile, a trait that Jacobs pointed out in all their SuperDraft selections.
“Sondre has played as a center-back in a back four, a right center-back in a back three, and a right -back in a back four,” Syracuse head coach Ian McIntyre told Broadway Sports Media. “He is a physical, powerful, aggressive defender who excels in one v one duels. He is a threat on attacking set pieces and has scored some very important goals for us.”
With Nashville largely playing a back four system under Gary Smith, with to occasional back three mixed in, Norheim’s versatility will give him an edge in making Nashville’s final roster for the 2021 season.
“Sondre continues to develop his technical side to the game and his decision making on the ball,” said McIntyre. “He possesses the ability to stretch the field with an excellent range of longer and diagonal passes. He has improved his ability to pick the right pass at the right time.”
With a strong group of defenders already in the squad, Norheim will have his work cut out for him to earn a role in this Nashville side, but McIntyre is convinced he has all the tools necessary to succeed in Major League Soccer.
“He has the temperament and the drive to successfully transition to the professional game. He’s constantly recognized by his teammates as the hardest working member of our squad,” said McIntyre. “Sondre has all the physical tools to compete. I am excited to see Sondre in a full time professional environment and I know that he will continue to improve. His ceiling is very high.”