Oslo to New York. New York to Phoenix. Phoenix to Casa Grande.
It took about 14 hours of flying time, but Minnesota United FC's Norwegian defender Vadim Demidov finally arrived at camp Thursday night in Arizona. He joined the team for a light training session Friday morning and seemed pretty unfazed by the eight-hour time difference.
"It's a good group, good teammates," Demidov said. "I saw the intensity was great. Just looking forward to joining the team 100 percent."
United signed Demidov back on Jan. 10. The 30-year-old is 6-1, 176 pounds and a strong option to play centerback. The Norwegian men's national team member has played in several of the world's top leagues, most recently spending two years with SK Brann in Norway.
But when the chance to come to the U.S. came up, he didn't hesitate to make the move.
"I had several offers, but [United] came in early and talked to my agent, and I heard about the interest in middle of December, I think," Demidov said. "Just to be a part of both the league that's developing and the club that's developing ... to build something like that, it's not always you can be a part of that and that chance.
"I've played in big leagues before in Europe, and now I felt it was the last chance for me to come to the U.S. as well because the level is getting higher and higher," he said.
Demidov was actually born in the former Soviet Union in what is now Riga, Latvia, and both his parents are Russian. But he moved to Norway at age 3 and said American culture, especially the TV shows, are very accessible there.
Being one of the older players with national team and big-league experience, United will count on Demidov to be leader. And the defender said he is up for that challenge.
"Of course, I have to take charge from my first training. I have to show the best of my qualities," Demidov said. "I was a captain of my team the last side, and I have experience from Spain and Germany and the Russian league as well. So I've played in good clubs and against the best players in the world. ... Of course, I see the level is high here, too."
The Loons have several Scandinavia-area players on the roster, including Swedish midfielder Mo Saeid, Finnish midfielder Rasmus Schuller and soon-to-arrive Swedish goalkeeper John Alvbage. Goalkeeping coach Marius Rovde is also from Norway. Demidov said Scandinavian players are loyal, hard working and cause very few problems, which make them good signings.
Demidov will bring two more Scandinavians with him to Minnesota when his wife and 6-month-old son join him in Minnesota in February.
"They'll adjust really quickly, I'm pretty sure," Demidov said. "They will love the city and the club as well."