From College to the Pros - The US soccer ladder

Friday, June 27, 2008

Colorado Rapids To Sign Greg Dalby…Finally…

We’ve written about Greg Dalby’s path to the pros a few times here at FCTP. Take a look for yourself. Here are just a few examples.

His name is probably one of the most used on this blog due to him being a hot prospect going into the 2007 SuperDraft, being drafted by my team and then his going AWOL and ending up in Europe. Dalby was a consensus top 10 pick going into the draft before the word trickled down that he was headed to Europe.

We’ll folks, he’s boomeranging back home and we expect him here in Denver after the July 15th transfer window opens.

In actuality he’s already here training with the club and the Rapids organization is thrilled to have him back.

"Everyone is thrilled with Greg joining us. We took a chance drafting him at #17 in the 2007 MLS Super Draft, and even received some criticism for the move. However, it was a calculated risk that has paid dividends despite the year and a half long wait. Greg should be able to make a contribution with our team in 2008 and prove to be another talented young player with a bright future for our organization."
- John Murphy, Rapids Director of Player Development

Between the 2007 SuperDraft, rejecting MLS’ original contract offer and today Dalby has spent time bouncing around Europe trying out for teams from Italy’s Serie A to Germany’s Bundesliga and Scotland’s Premier League. After many trials Dalby found his way to Belgium and second division R. Charleroi S.C. After not catching on with the Flemish side, Dalby is returning back to the States. The Colorado Rapids still hold his rights and they’re releasing Brazilian Rafael Gomes to make room. After the window the signing will be made official by the league and club.

Dalby will join a stable of other promising American midfielders. Over the past few drafts the Rapids have stockpiled young players who can compete in MLS. Early in the season the Rapids found their best success while captain Pablo Mastroeni was injured. Rapids fans got their first taste of Nick LaBrocca and John DiRaimondo and enjoyed what they saw. Dalby’s addition packs the house and could make one of the other young, up and coming midfielders surplus to the Rapids’ needs.

To be frank, I was one who was critical of the Rapids drafting Dalby. At the time I felt like it was a waste to take a player who had openly made it clear he was going to Europe. Additionally, I was critical of Dalby for going on trials around the world instead of working on his game in a professional environment. Here we are today with him coming back to MLS as another young American boomerang. He's 22 years old and could be behind the curve compared to his teammates who stepped right into MLS following college. Nick LaBrocca and John DiRaimondo aren't going to give up their positions in the club too easily after working hard while Dalby traveled around Europe.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Dalby fits into the team. The Rapids are currently floundering in league play and are out of the US Open Cup after not qualifying. The coaching staff is seemingly in transition or turmoil, depending on who you talk to, and Dalby is just now stepping into this. Should he play well and keep his mouth shut, coach Clavijo will have a new weapon in his arsenal of young American midfielders.

Another aspect to consider is the Olympics. Will playing on American soil help his chances of making the team? I'm sure he hopes so.

*Edit: After publishing this post Rapids GM Jeff Plush added the following:

We are very excited about Greg. He brings us ability and versatility,
but as important he has a strong record as a leader as captain at both Notre Dame and the US u-20 squad. We look forward to seeing him develop with our club.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Forward Ricardo Pierre-Louis Resurfaces....

Ricardo Pierre-Louis was high on my list of small school players who should get a chance in MLS. He was drafted in the 2008 SuperDraft by Columbus and then I lost track of him. Turns out he was finishing his studies at Lee University and now that he's done, and Adam Moffat was placed on season ending injury, the Crew have room to sign him to a developmental contract according to a Crew press release I just received.

Pierre-Louis' college stats are impressive to say the least. Pierre-Louis scored 101 goals, with 33 assists, in 63 career games at Lee. Yeah, that is a lot of goals in a college career. The question now becomes, how well will he adapt to the pro game's speed and physical nature? His six foot one, 180 pound frame should hold up well to the beating MLS defenders will undoubtedly give him but that doesn't mean he'll become a solid professional in MLS. He's going to have to work hard and learn how to avoid that beating. I believe someone like Pierre-Louis, who seems to score goals with the same ease the rest of us walk and talk, will be able to become a good MLS goal scorer. Hopefully Columbus is the right place for him to grow. At 23 years old he is a little behind the curve in terms of transitioning to the pros but only time will tell how he adapts.

Watch out, MLS may have another Haitian Sensation.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

MLS Reaches New Heights With Altidore Transfer...

$10 million. Freddy Adu wasn't worth that much to Benfica when he left MLS. $10 million. That is a real number. That much bought you a franchise way back when the league was forming. That is what you see flying across the newswire when European clubs buy and sell players.

Way to go Jozy, you're a man now. Make sure you work hard and convince your new club that you were worth it. Work hard, learn something and bring it to the US National team. When you're getting too old for European football bring your skills back to MLS to teach the next generation. We're proud of you.

For those who want to learn about Jozy's new club, check out their Wiki page. The club just finished a great La Liga season where they finished second. If Jozy suits up for El Submarino Amarillo in 2008/09 he could have a chance at playing in Europe. However, there are rumors of him going on loan for the upcoming season to continue to gain experience before joining the big boys.

Villarreal looks like a beautiful location on the Spanish Mediterranean coast, just north of Valencia. Enjoy the new life of a professional footballer, Jozy, you've earned it. Pretty soon we'll be reading about Jozy and a Spanish WAG.

So how did he get here you ask? He was drafted in the second round (17th overall) of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. Yeah, two short years ago New York picked up their meal ticket in the second round of the draft. With this $10 million transfer New York earns two-thirds of the revenue. $6.6 million will go to New York to invest in players and youth development, training facilities, etc. That is great for MLS and the Red Bulls. Hopefully they spend their money wisely.

Take a look at Jozy's stats in three MLS seasons. 25 goals in 37 regular season games with another 4 goals in 4 playoff games. Those are serious numbers for an 18 year old. He came straight to MLS from US Soccer Residency.

As an aside, go Red Wings!

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