A.J. Soares has found a new home as the former New England Revolution defender signed an 18-month contract with Viking FK on Monday, ending months of speculation.
Speaking to local media after the decision, Soares cited excellent staff and resources as reasons for joining Viking. He made specific note of the stadium, saying "it's the sort of place that you can imagine yourself playing and really enjoying."
Soon after MLS Cup, reports surfaced that Soares would be exploring European options. When a rumored deal with Hellas Verona of Serie A never materialized, Soares set his sights on Norway, first training with Stabaek then trialing with Viking. This was all part of the California native's search for his next challenge.
"I could have stayed in the United States, that would have been an easy choice," Soares said. "But to come here with a new challenge and try to take a big club like Viking and try to improve on the last season and bring the club back up is something I want to do."
Soares is expected to play center back for Viking, a spot where he played 45 minutes at during a preseason friendly against Vålerenga. Recognizing the competition along the back line, Soares stopped short of saying he would be an automatic starter, but he did say that his time in MLS will serve as good preparation for the Tippeligaen.
"I've played center defender a lot," Soares stated. "I came from MLS, which is a very, very physical league with really good athletes."
The 26-year-old was drafted sixth overall by the Revs in 2011, making 108 regular-season appearances before departing this off season. Over the course of four seasons in MLS, Soares collected six goals and one assist.