After long speculation, and more than a week after a price agreement with Sogndal was announced, RBK said today that American Robbie Russell will join the club.
The player billed as "possibly the league's best right back" will join Rosenborg after the mid-summer break, with his first appearance possibly against Fredrikstad FK and Brian West on July 25.
Although exact transfer details have not been officially released, VG, one of Norway's largest newspapers, reports that 3 million kroner (approx. $430K US) will be paid to Sogndal immediately with a further 1 million kroner due if RBK reaches the Champion's League. Two additional payments of 500,000 kroner will be based on two appearance milestones for Russell.
Russell was drafted out of Duke University in 2001 by MLS side L.A. Galaxy, but opted instead to head to Europe. After an impressive trial, he was signed by Sogndal in the Norwegian top division.
Russell has built a shining reputation through his excellent play on the field. He began his career as a right midfielder, but was moved to right back. His time as a wide midfielder has helped add an attacking dimension to his play and the 24 year old has proved to be a handful when going forward. Combined with his rock solid defense and impressive speed, it is no wonder that RBK came calling.
Rosenborg has struggled defensively in the first half of the season, particularly at the outside back positions. Blossoming Swedish left back, Mikael Dorsin (a member of the Swedish U-21 National Team) has already joined the club and now more reinforcement has been secured. RBK officials have said that although Russell is still listed as a midfielder by his current club, it is at the right back position that they see him making an impact. Norwegian international Christer Basma currently holds that spot and will undoubtedly have something to say about who sees the most time on the field.
Russell says one of his goals is to play soccer in countries other than Norway and the United States. With RBK he will be in a position to receive the kind of exposure across Europe that might help him fulfill that goal. RBK could very well secure a UEFA Cup spot and have a shot at the Champions League by winning the league crown. The club is sitting just five points out of first place.
Russell has boosted his national team stock by joining RBK. With the intense World Cup qualifying campaign just getting under way for the United States, U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena will be looking everywhere for players to contribute to the cause. Russell was called into camp earlier this year, but took a minor knock that prevented him from getting a run out with the full team. If Russell gets Champion's League or UEFA Cup experience under his belt and plays well for RBK, then it may prove difficult to keep him out of the national team squad.