Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Potential Opportunities and The Worst Game Ever

March 8:

Still not much to report.  I’m still in Myllykoski waiting on an opportunity.  It looks like I will get a shot in Division 1 in Sweden.  Despite its name, Division 1 is actually the 3rd tier of Swedish soccer.  I have no idea what the level will be like there, or the pay, but at this point I just need a team that believes in me.  Last year, there was a striker who started the season in Division 1, then went to Allsvenskan and before the calendar year was up was signed by Celtic in Scotland.  If I sign in Sweden, that level of success is my goal.

Anyway, speaking of division 1, last night I went with Kenny to a match in Lapeenranta.  Kenny has been training with PEPO, a team there in Division 1 while still staying at the apartment here with me.  The coach of PEPO comes every day to pick him up and make the hour-long drive to and from practice.  The club had a game so I decided to tag along and watch.  Kenny didn’t play because it was a Finnish Cup match for the team.  This is different from the League Cup that I’ve mentioned a few times here before.  The League Cup is only for Veikkausliiga clubs; The Finnish Cup is open to all teams.  The Finnish Cup is the equivalent of the US Open Cup in America.

On to the match…it was…the…worst professional game I’ve ever seen.  And I’ve seen professional soccer in Vietnam.  This team PEPO apparently won this league last year, but then lost a playoff to move up to the 2nd tier of Finnish soccer.  I honestly can’t believe that.  The team (in the purple and yellow jersey) played with no midfield whatsoever, made terrible mistakes in the back and countless simple technical mistakes.  A misstrap here and there is ok, but when it becomes a common occurrence you have to wonder about a team.  Also, PEPO reintroduced the ‘ol “kick it out of bounds play”, something I haven’t seen since I watched girls high school soccer at North Central.  If you’re not familiar, the “kick it out of bounds play” is when, for no particular reason and without any pressure, a player kicks the ball straight out of bounds.  This is not a defensive tactic, but rather a result of the player being absolutely terrible.  I’ve included a gameplay video but it doesn’t do this terrible match justice at all.

I’ve been told that I have a trial in the same tier over in Sweden, and if the level there is anything like it is in Finland, then I don’t think I’ll stay at that level for too long.  I’m not overstating when I say that this game was similar to what you’d see at the Fowler Fields at USF during intramurals. 

So I’m confident now of being offered a contract, even if it’s at a lower level than I’d like.  My goal was to sign in Europe somewhere and see how far my skills could take me given a fair shot to be seen that I could never get in America.  Not a single player is going from USL or NASL to a big team in Europe.  Brad Rusin went to the worst team in the top league in Denmark, but that’s about as good as any lower division player in America could hope for.  Meanwhile as I mentioned, lower division players in Sweden can dream of signing for Celtic and making 15,000 euros a week.

Wish me luck.  I think I’ll be going to Sweden soon, but I’ll wait for the people who arrange these things to confirm it.

PHOTOBOMB!  That’s my baby niece, Amani.  She’s super cute and needs to be seen.

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