Flying Kiwis – June 25

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Sarpreet Singh – Wellington Phoenix (Australian A-League)

Unless you live under an online rock then you’ve probably heard this one already but let’s break this one down because… wow. Sarpreet Singh, Wellington Phoenix creative midfielder, is currently in Germany ahead of a prospective move to Bayern Munich. Yes, that Bayern Munich.

Now, if this all comes to pass then it’ll be getting the full on solo article treatment but for now let’s just get up to scratch on what’s going on. The first that was heard of it was when Bild, the German paper, leaked the news that Sarpreet was already in Bavaria ahead of a prospective move. Bayern had been trying to keep it all secret for some reason and it seems they did a pretty good job of it too until the press got a peek.

If this goes ahead then Singh would initially play with the reserve team, who are based in the third tier in Germany, but with an eye on him progressing to the seniors if things go right. It’s not a completed deal yet, so fingers crossed. Also with a year left on his Phoenix contract, the Nix should also be due a transfer fee which is cool. David Dome has confirmed the story and wished Singh well.

This comes a week after Bayern were reported to be planning on signing 16 year old Celtic defender Liam Morrison, and a team like this with as much money and power as Bayern are always looking for these kinds of deals. They don’t need Sarpreet Singh to be amazing, they can cop the costs if he never cracks it, but sign enough of these high-upside dudes from around the world and a couple are bound to develop into serious players. And you know… Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are both leaving the club so there’s a little bit of a vacuum there for creativity just quietly.

Up Next: …

Ryan Thomas – PSV Eindhoven (Dutch Eredivisie)

So… that first season with PSV didn’t quite go as planned. Ryan Thomas got the big move to the big club but then busted his knee almost straight away and missed the entire campaign, as PSV watched rivals Ajax win a league and cup double while making the semis of the Champions League. But that Ajax team are going to lose a lot of those fellas in this transfer window which should open things right up just as Thommo is returning to fitness.

And with PSV having to get into the Champions League the hard way, drawing FC Basel of Switzerland in the second qualifying round which begins in just a month’s time… preseason training has already begun ahead of time. In fact they’re a week into it already. “PSV head coach Mark van Bommel put his players through their paces on the first day of pre-season training at De Herdgang training facilities. Jorrit Hendrix, Mauro Júnior, Trent Sainsbury, Matthias Verreth, Sam Lammers, Nick Viergever, Bart Ramselaar, Jordan Teze, Pablo Rosario, Joël Piroe, Luuk Koopmans, Mike van de Meulenhof, Hidde Jurjus, Zakaria Aboukhlal, Dante Rigo, Mohamed Ihattaren and Derrick Luckassen did a lot of running, before they started to practise incisive passing and precise finishing. Ryan Thomas and Hirving Lozano trained separately from the main group.”

Thommo training aside from the main group. Not quite back to full fitness then but he’s getting there and we’re a little while away from the season yet. A month until that first game, much longer until the league yarns. It’s been ten months since he sustained his injury.

A number of internationals aren’t with the squad at the moment – although Mexican star Hirving Lozano is, he’s still recovering from an injury against Michael Woud’s Willem II back in April. However Lozano’s still likely to be sold on this window, with Napoli very keen for his signature. Fullback Angeliño is also likely to be bought back by Manchester City and Luuk de Jong is another whose name gets in the rumour mills. They have signed Ibrahim Afellay though and Arjen Robben is a possibility by the sounds of it.

Up Next: First possible game is a friendly against OGC Nice on Monday 8 July at 3am (NZT)

Joe Bell – Unattached (Sort Of But Maybe Not For Long)

Joe Bell was brilliant against Norway at the U20 World Cup. Norwegian top flight club Viking were watching and took notice. They invited him for a trial… and that’s where we were a week ago. Since then it’s been confirmed in their local press that Joe Bell has been offered a contract. A week’s worth of training with the side was all they needed and now we wait and see if Joe’s keen.

At the same time, it’s been reported in Norway what has long been suspected back in Aotearoa which is that the Wellington Phoenix have been in contact, which makes sense given his prominence with the academy team back in the day. At this point Bell is one of NZ’s brightest midfield prospects and it’s only a matter of time until he signs professional… perhaps only a matter of days if this Viking interest is coming on as hot as it sounds. The club want him so it’s all a matter of whether he believes this is the best move for his career at this moment.

Joe Bell: “It is cool with all the interest, but now it's about finding out what is serious, assessing the opportunities and together with the family making the best choice for my future. The Phoenix are a good club so it would be a nice opportunity but it would also be fantastic to get the chance in Viking.”

Up Next: The dotted line, if that’s where we’re at

Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

Up Next: Chilling

Abby Erceg – North Carolina Courage (American National Women’s Soccer League)

Make sure you vote for Abby Erceg in the ESPY’s up there. Get it done.

It’ll probably be a quick turnaround for Erceg (and also Katie Bowen) now as the NWSL continues on and this isn’t the way it was supposed to happen, the Football Ferns failing to make it out of their group, but it’s what did happen so they’ll each be back into it in the club footy pretty soon. The Courage have been badly affected by World Cup absences and currently sit fifth on 13 points after nine games – Erceg playing in seven of those. Bowen’s Utah Royals have kept it steady though, winning 1-0 over Sky Blue and drawing 0-0 with Portland Timbers since Bowen left to have them second by just one point as it stands.

The World Cup’s been a huge disruption and it’s mental that the league continued with so many players missing (more than 70 squad members from World Cup nations were based in America, though some of those were at college level)… but at least it’s kept it funky.

Up Next: Sunday at 11am away to Washington Spirit (NZT)

Elliot Collier – Memphis 901 FC (American USL Championship)

It was only a friendly game but a sell-out crowd of more than 8000 turned up in Memphis to see The 901 take on Mexican powerhouses Pachuca. Memphis Grizzlies first round NBA draft pick Ja Morant was also in attendance, smashing a guitar over an amp before kickoff… for some reason. The Mexican side went on to win 6-1 thanks to a brace from former Leicester City and Brighton striker Leonardo Ulloa – a Premier League champion don’t forget – but that one was scored by none other…

Elliot Collier: “I’ve said it before that we have the best fans in the league. It was just an amazing atmosphere to play in.”

Collier’s goal had made it 1-1 going into the break but Ulloa bagged a four-minute brace in the second half which opened it right up. No dramas though, this was just a fun occasion against a quality side and Collier putting away the goals is always a positive. He’s been looking sharper lately and that bodes well for the league stuff to follow.

Up Next: Away to Charlotte Independence on Sunday at 11am (NZT)

Logan Rogerson - Carl Zeiss Jena (German Liga 3)

“Our FCC and Logan Rogerson are now going their separate ways. The 21-year-old New Zealander, who moved from Wellington in the summer of last year, Jena and the FCC have agreed to terminate his contract early. We wish Logan all the best for the future!”

He was only there a year but Logan Rogerson has asked out of his contract in Germany, leaving by mutual consent. The 21 year old was mostly a reserves player with Jena, only featuring for 54 minutes across two subs appearances for the side in the German third tier league. That was all at the start of the season too and there was an injury in the second half of things which would have added to the whole thing. It didn’t help that the coach and sporting director that brought him in didn’t last too much longer and the new brass wasn’t as keen on his potential, kinda isolating, him hence this decision has been made in the best interests of all involved.

So what’s next, Logan?

LR: “First of all, I'm in U23 New Zealand for a month. We want to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. That's my big goal. I hope I can stay in Germany afterwards. A few clubs have contacted me. We are in talks, but there is nothing concrete yet. But one thing is certain: I want to continue playing in Germany… The main thing for a footballer is to play. If a good regional league club comes to me and offers me a perspective, then that's a consideration. But: In football, many things change extremely fast. For example, when I was in Kiel, I hurt myself abruptly. So now I just look forward and want to make as many games as possible. You will see where that will be.”

Straight from the horse’s mouth, mate. We’ll see what happens with that Pacific Games squad now that Fritz Schmid’s gone but Rogerson is definitely one of those fellas in the mix for the Olympic qualifying squad later on. Along with a large selection of other top notch under-23 players. Following on from the deserved hype of that last U20 squad, this next Olympics effort will also be all sorts of exciting.

Up Next: Hopefully the Pacific Games

Kyle Adams – Rio Grande Valley (American United Soccer League)

Houston Dynamo: “The Houston Dynamo signed Rio Grande Valley defender Kyle Adams and forward Carlos Small to Short-Term Agreements, making them available for the club’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 match against Minnesota United FC later this evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. Adams has served as the captain of RGV FC throughout the 2019 USL Championship season and has played in 12 games for the Toros. The defender leads the team with 54 defensive clearances and 26 aerial duels won so far this season. Adams was signed to a Short-Term Agreement with the Dynamo for their Fourth Round matchup against Austin Bold FC, but did not feature in the 3-2 victory.”

Couple cool things about that. One is that the other fella, Carlos Small, has been scoring big goals for RGV lately but is a different dude to the one who was called up with Kyle Adams for the previous round’s game. That was defender Andrew Samuels. Four call ups from RGV and two of them were for Kyle Adams who’s hard work is beginning to see some rewards.

The other thing is that Adams has apparently got his green card on lock now which significantly increases his chances of ever making this promotion a permanent one as he would not need to be registered as an international player on any MLS roster. Obviously that was a stick-up that kinda ruined Stefan Marinovic’s time in the USA for one so big deal. Adams is in his second season with the Dynamo affiliate Rio Grande Valley having played for three year previously at San Diego State University.

Of course, taking on Minnesota United meant we had a NZer on the other side too so…

Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)

Mike Boxall, being a genuinely good dude as always.

There was no game this weekend for the Loons, as the MLS mixes it up during the Gold Cup going on at the same time. But they did play a few days earlier against Houston Dynamo in the US Open Cup and… took care of business. A 3-2 win puts them into the quarter finals where they’ll face New Mexico United (a USL team that just knocked FC Dallas out). The Portland Timbers are the other club with a kiwi to have made it this far.

This game was a blinder, with the Dynamo up 2-0 at HT and Minnesota capping the comeback with an 89th minute winner from Mason Toye. That’s the defending champs taken care of too. Full game for Mike Boxall. Including a yellow card. Kyle Adams was an unused sub for the Dynamo. Carlos Small got a go, which was a tad unfair, but so it goes. Adams is in it for the long haul and this might have been his last chance in 2019 to milk one of these short term deals, with Houston now out of the cup, but keep doing what he’s doing – which is clearly working – for RGVFC and see what happens.

Up Next: Minny vs FC Cincinnati, Sunday at 8am (NZT)

Laura Merrin - Fylde Ladies (English Premier League Northern Division)

Up Next: Getting back into that preseason work soon

Tommy Smith & Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)

It might be that the Post-Huddo Bounce is wearing off now, following a pretty sloppy penalty defeat in the USL Cup a week ago and now here they were away to Vancouver Whitecaps and up 2-0 after twenty minutes and they conspired to give away a penalty in first half stoppage time before leaking an equaliser with ten minutes to play. The only thing missing was a late winner against them. Oh and also Deklan Wynne, he was still missing as he rehabs on that foot injury and was ruled out ahead of time so might still be another couple more games before he’s considered again.

The Rapids were missing a couple players and they fell into too much of a defensive mindset, yet it took a late free kick to rob two of those three points from them. The main problem was that they couldn’t make it 3-0 in that first half and really kill it off when they had the chance. Tommy Smith played the full thing and had a little bit to do with the first goal, challenging for the initial header.

Speaking of the Post-Huddo Bounce, it even works for Anthony Hudson, apparently…

Unbelievable, aye?

Up Next: Colorado vs LAFC, Saturday at 2pm (NZT)

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

Rojas has a habit for finishing seasons strong. For Heerenveen he played his best footy late in his last full season, scoring three of his four goals in the last few games. But then he only played 60 minutes in the first half of the next season, cup things aside, and moved to Sonders… where again his best footy came at the end of things, scoring one goal and assisting another in a 4-1 win over Vejle that kept the team’s European hopes alive. Didn’t work out that way in the end… but it’s something to build off for Rojas as the new season kicks off in a month’s time.

Before that there’s friendly action to take care of. Rojas scored a goal in a 9-1 win over Nordals Boldklub in which 24 players took the field for SønderjyskE, pretty low key that one. He then featured from the start as Sonders came up against Malmø (Sweden), with Marco winning a penalty in the second half having been one of only two players not subbed off at the half. He tried to round the keeper to score with 25 mins to go but was chopped down. Johan Absalonsen scored from the sport and 2-1 was the ginal score, Malmø winning that one. Rojas also has a little competition from new signing Rilwan Hassan, a Nigerian winger who has signed from FC Midtjylland now.

Up Next: First proper game is home to Randers at 10pm on Saturday 14 July (NZT)

Clayton Lewis – Scunthorpe United (English League Two)

Relegation is always a rough one to take but for Clayton Lewis a stint in League Two next season might be exactly what he needs. The kiwi midfielder had been a fringe player at best for Scunny since he arrived but the last couple months of last season, under interim manager Andy Dawson, finally saw him get an extended run in the starting eleven and even though he wasn’t able to inspire them to stay up, he did show that there’s a fair bit he’s got to offer this club.

Paul Hirst has come in as manager since then and Clayton Lewis is hitting up the final year of his contract. Put simply, this is do or die for his Scunthorpe career. He can either kick on from here and really establish himself or he can start looking elsewhere pretty soon. With preseason just around the corner, that’s an exciting prospect to be honest. And as always, luck and circumstance will play a part, here’s a local view of the whole tactical run down…

Grimsby LIVE: “According to transfermarket, Hurst's most used formations during his time as a manager are 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 - this works for Lewis. In both line-ups, he'd be able to play as an advanced central midfielder whilst finding pockets between the oppositions midfield and defence. The way Scunthorpe United played for the majority of last season was not conducive to Lewis' game, nor his progression as a player. In Stuart McCall's diamond, Lewis was seemingly third choice in the pecking order to play the number 10 (behind George Thomas and Jordan Hallam), whilst struggling to impress playing from the wing - a position which he just does not seem to suit in the EFL.

It's difficult to find a spot for Lewis in the 4-4-2. He'll be behind Adam Hammill, Ryan Colclough and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni in the pecking order to play from the wings, and he doesn't really have the ideal size nor strength to play in a two-man midfield whilst likely being behind Matty Lund, Funso Ojo and James Perch. However, towards the end of the campaign under Andy Dawson, Lewis was brought into the team and performed well as a central midfielder alongside Matty Lund. The two were able to work the ball around nicely, with Lewis looking to always make himself available for the pass and drove forward initiating Iron attacks.”

Paul Hurst is a decent appointment with something to prove after a shocker time with Ipswich last season where he lasted just five months and the Tractor Boys went on to be relegated. Clayton Lewis has something to prove as well, which goes good. Andy Butler, a veteran defender, has been the only addition to the squad so far but there’ll probably be a couple more over the next week before the squad leave for camp in La Manga.

Grimsby LIVE: “Lewis has the raw ability and talent to thrive in League Two, not many Iron fans will question that. But can he show, on a regular basis, that he can be a player who stays involved in the game and adds the goals and assists he'll need to to keep his place? If he does, he could become the player who Scunthorpe United fans had hoped he would when Graham Alexander brought him to the club two years ago. If he doesn't, it could be the last we see of him playing in England.”

Up Next: All the good things, hopefully

Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)

The Oregonian: “Portland Timbers defender Bill Tuiloma is continuing to recover from a hamstring injury that he suffered during the club’s home opener against LAFC on June 1. Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said that Tuiloma is making good progress and was moving around on the field Monday. Savarese could not say whether Tuiloma would be healthy enough to play Saturday when the Timbers host the Houston Dynamo. “Today was his first day to start moving around, so he’s getting closer and closer,” Savarese said. “The majority of the guys are feeling very good.””

That was about a week ago now, that report. Since then he predictably sat out what ended up being a comfortable 4-0 win over Houston Dynamo, with Julio Cascante filling in for him at CB, Portland running away with it in the last half hour after Diego Valeri’s 61st minute penalty. As such it feels unlikely that he’ll have much to do with their Thursday arvo (NZT) game away to Montreal but we’ll see how that hamstring holds up. The coach went on to say later in the week that Tui is “getting very close” but you also don’t wanna be taking dumb risks at this stage of the season.

Up Next: Montreal Impact vs Portland Timbers, Thursday at 11.30am (NZT)

Michael den Heijer - NEC Nijmegen (Dutch Eerste Divisie)

NEC have been through some things lately. Relegation. Failing to get promoted. Failing to get promoted again. That kinda triple threat of failure has consequences and it’s been super annoying that Mike den Heijer hasn’t been given more of a pop with the club in his time there. He made some serious progress with the reserves for a while and sat on the bench 27 times in the league in 2017-18. But he seemed to fall off the back of the wagon this past season so it’s not really a surprise that he hasn’t been offered a new contract. In fact it looks like the whole club is in for a shakeup with no less than ten players being released at the end of this month.

Forza NEC: “Van Hiensch (leaving for Bennekom) and Spierings (OSS'20) are already certain that they will not return to NEC. Bakker has been playing on loan for RKHVV since the winter break and is following Hiensch to Bennekom after the summer. Spierings gets company in Oss from Brian Campman, who previously played with Achilles'29. They are certainly not the only players from Jong NEC who make the move to amateur football. Cali Daniel (DUNO), Steven Smulder (Hoek) and keeper Arjan Ardts (Woezik) do the same. Lance Duijvestijn came to try his luck a year ago in Nijmegen after years in the youth academy of ADO Den Haag, but is already returning to the Hofstad. Jack de Gier let the midfielder substitute in last season's first league game against SC Cambuur (2-2). Zija Azizov, who came over from FC Den Bosch a year ago, returns to his home country Azerbaijan to play at Keshla FK. The New Zealander Michael den Heijer is in possession of an expiring contract. His new club is not yet known.”

Up Next: A chat with the agent, naturally

James Musa – Phoenix Rising (American USL Championship)

The Moose in action. He played a strong ninety mins against OKC Energy too as Phoenix won 4-1 for their seventh straight win and with all the goals they’re bashing away lately they’ve surged clear at the top of the Western Conference table – and they play the second placed Portland Timbers next, who are coached by kiwi Cam Knowles.

Up Next: Home vs Portland Timbers, Sunday at 2.30pm (NZT)

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