Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate PHNX Sports Community!

After month-long wait for visa, Haugli eager for Rising debut

Owain Evans Avatar
April 26, 2022

After a month of speculation, Phoenix Rising has put a name to the face of its new center-back: Sivert Haugli.

The club announced Haugli’s loan signing from the Portland Timbers 2 on Monday. He bolsters a back line that is currently without Niall Dunn and James Musa. Both are dealing with hip injuries, with Niall out for a few months and Musa possibly still weeks away.

In his first press conference since the signing, Rising coach Rick Schantz wasn’t short on praise for the Norwegian center-back.

“Very, very big, strong,” he said. “Good in the tackle, good in the air but great feet. I think he’s going to be one to watch.”

The 6-feet-5 defender won’t fly under the radar on the field, but he was stuck in the background until this week. Haugli has already been in Phoenix for a month, waiting on various administrative issues to be resolved.

“We were having some challenges with the paperwork and getting it sorted out, whether it was going to be a loan from NEXT Pro or MLS and then the visa issues,” Schantz said. “Right now, it’s a little bit difficult to get visas. I’m sure everyone’s dealing with the same situation.”

For Haugli, that meant training with Rising every day, but no matches.

“It has been pretty frustrating, yeah, but it’s one of those things where you can’t really do anything about it,” Haugli said. “You’ve just got to sit back and let things happen and unfold. The fact that I’ve been here and been able to train and be around the team and the guys has made everything easier because it’s a great place to be. If I was miserable here and couldn’t play, it would have been different. It would have been a lot harder.”

During that time, Haugli has been able to acclimate himself with his new squad. He’s already forming bonds with his new teammates.

“I think he’s been doing very well,” teammate Channing Chasten said. “He’s been here for a while, I know, but he’s doing really well. Great command of the defense, can play a forward pass perfectly. Good voice, commands us, so I think he’ll be a good addition to our team.”

Haugli’s links to Rising have been brewing for a while. The Norwegian revealed that prior to the MLS SuperDraft, Rising had spoken with his agent about a possible deal. After he was drafted by the Portland Timbers, the club appeared on the radar once again.

“There were talks about going on loan to a potential Championship club, and then Phoenix popped up again and from there it was an easy choice,” Haugli said.

Schantz’s links with the coaching staff in Portland helped pave the way for the deal to come to fruition.

“They were looking for a chance to keep him somehow, and I think it just worked for both parties,” Schantz said. “It was perfect timing. We wish that he could have played a little bit sooner, but sometimes these things just have a way of working themselves out.”

Haugli joins the squad after last playing in college for Virginia Tech. He was also a part of the Des Moines Menace side that won the League Two title last season.

“It’s historically been a very successful program [in Phoenix] and something that’s very fun to be part of and challenging,” Haugli said. “That’s kind of what I wanted, going out of college.”

It’s still unclear if Haugli will be available for Rising in Sunday’s match against LA Galaxy II. According to Schantz, the Norwegian is still awaiting final clearance on his concurrent visa: a process that could be resolved either this week or the next.

For Haugli, though, it’s the home atmosphere that he’s most looking forward to seeing from the field, not just as a spectator.

“Great atmosphere,” Haugli said. “I haven’t gotten to go to any away games yet, so I can’t say it’s better than any other places but I’ve heard it’s a lot better and one of the best in the country. I can’t wait to play.”

Follow Owain Evans on Twitter

Scroll to next article