Flying Kiwis – July 2

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Sarpreet Singh – Bayern Munich II (German 3.Liga)

It’s officially been confirmed. Sarpreet Singh will be signing with the Bayern Munich reserves on a three year deal with the hope that he’ll emerge into the first team picture towards the end of that contract, and will be doing so at a transfer fee of something in the range of $750k to $1m NZD. A record fee for the Wellington Phoenix and about as exciting as it gets for Sarpreet who’ll go straight into preseason training with his new team.

Jochen Sauer, head of FC Bayern Campus: “With Sarpreet we are able to sign a technically strong and very talented attacking midfielder. We are very happy that he has chosen FC Bayern.”

Sarpreet Singh: “For me, the move to the amateur team of FC Bayern is an excellent step. I'm thrilled to play for this big club.”

This feels like one that needs a deeper dive later in the week so keep an eye out of that but Bayern II are a separate team from the Bundesliga team. They play proper senior footy in the third division (having just got promoted, actually – they’re the only reserve team in the top three tiers) and Sarpreet will be associated with that reserve team here, wearing number 31. But there are natural progressions that come with that and although nobody believes he’s ready to replace Franck Ribery just yet, he’s got three years locked in now and he has all three of them to establish a name for himself in Germany.

This doesn’t mean that he’ll ever play for that first team, he’s got a lot of improvement to get through before that, but this way he can concentrate on the footy and adapt to the German lifestyle without the same pressure that, say, Marco Rojas was under with Stuttgart where his best work in those years came out on loan in Switzerland. Singh is going to get the same positives as going out on loan from the first team but with a much healthier proximity and in a team that focuses on player development.

It also shows that Bayern are keen to protect him, having learned the lessons of the start of the year when they signed teenaged Canadian prospect Alphonso Davies from the Vancouver Whitecaps (signed back when Marinovic was still at the club – that dude’s connected to everything) amidst all kinds of hype and publicity. Davies is more of a sure-fire prospect than Singh and went straight into the first team, playing a handful of times off the bench. But he also started five times for the reserves last season as he adjusted to German football with a few ups and downs – including the time he managed to injure himself celebrating after scoring his first Bundesliga goal. He’s admitted to needing some time to learn the language and settle in so Singh’s got that case study ahead of him.

This is what Davies had to say about his experiences with the reserves:

“Every game I play, no matter how big or small, I just try to give my all in everything I do. Obviously it’s different when you walk in the stadium and you see 75,000 people compared to 700, but as soon as that whistle blows, football is football, you just want to play and have fun. I don’t see it as a negative thing (playing in a lower league). Most of the players here, for example Lahm and Alaba, played for the second team. It’s a transition you have to go through being a young player, get some minutes, you don’t expect to play every single game at that level in the Bundesliga. My time will come, I’m being patient.”

The Bayern reserves are currently in a preseason training camp in Stubai Valley, a gorgeous looking alpine region in Austria and Singh appears to be taking full part. A couple live vids online have emerged showing him in his training kit amongst the lads – one of which apparently has a coach telling the social media team to quit filming because his transfer hadn’t at that point been confirmed yet. Bit of a laugh. Also amongst them is young German striker Jann-Fiete Arp who is an age-grade international and recently signed for Bayern from Hamburg – Arp will probably go straight into the first team having impressed at Bundesliga level last season but the pros haven’t started yet so he’s getting some extra reps in with the ressies.

Up Next: Straight into it, mate

Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)

In the continuing good vibes of recent times, Mike Boxall is just living his best life in Minnesota these days. Raising money for charity, being a good dad, and winning football games. That third one had a couple exclamation marks this week, but first… the first two…

And now for the footy, as FC Cincinnati came to town and then couldn’t leave town quick enough. Boxall has been in and out of the team recently but has chipped in wherever he’s been needed since being dropped and that impressive attitude has seen him re-establish himself of late and here he was preferred in the middle of a back four alongside Ike Opara. Might have been a bit of rotation involved there but Brent Kallman’s been starting ahead of Boxall for the last two months – Boxall’s only two starts at CB in a back four since he was dropped back then have come alongside Kallman with Opara out injured (or working his way back) so curious that he was picked ahead of Kallman here. It’s also a reward for a couple solid showings in a couple US Open Cup wins.

Mike Boxall: “I think we’ve shown through the international breaks that we’ve got a bit of depth. Whoever goes out, needs a break or whatever, players have stepped up and done their jobs.”

Cincy were missing nine first team regulars for various reasons. Injuries, suspensions, etc. And having already lost ten of their past eleven games the expansion side was in some pretty shocking shape. Minnesota are a strong home side too. Plus the US Open Cup had given them a chance to rest a few key dudes while also finding some winning form and, yeah… as you’d expect this one wasn’t even close. In fact Minnesota win it 7-1. It was 4-0 at half time and then they scored another trio in the final twenty after Cincy had dragged one back. Six different scorers, centre back Ike Opara also getting a double which left Boxall sliding under the radar. But a record win for the Loons. How about it?

Up Next: San Jose at home, midday on Thursday (NZT)

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

Incredibly, not even two weeks after being knocked out of the World Cup, Abby Erceg was back into it for the Courage in the NWSL… which is on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean too, by the way. Debinha there was even keener as Brazil made it to the knockouts… and Debinha scored the opener late in first half stoppage time, converting on the rebound having missed her initial penalty attempt. Leah Pruitt then added another in the 53rd minute and while Washington Spirit did pull one back thanks to Crystal Thomas it was a 2-1 win for NCC. Taking care of business as always, this was a huge win over the team that had been chilling in their accustomed first place on the ladder.

However Erceg didn’t actually play despite being named in the starting eleven. She was a late scratch with a calf strain which sounds a bit of a safety first approach and fair enough too after playing three high intensity games in a whole other continent with short recoveries between and then bouncing immediately back into things here. Erceg was spotted by the telly cameras warming up with the team on the back pitch but she didn’t emerge for kickoff. Hopefully nothing serious.

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Also, just a reminder…

Up Next: Saturday at 11.30am at home to Houston Dash (NZT)

Tommy Smith – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)

Incredibly the run continues. A couple dodgy ones lately had the whole thing wobbling but a clean sheet victory over LAFC this week, a team that had only lost one other time all season and still sit top of the Western Conference, means that Colorado have now won five and drawn two of their last seven MLS games.

The first half was a real dud. No relevant chances to talk about, LAFC had most of the ball but with nothing to show for it. Then, four minutes into the second half, Danny Wilson popped up on the end of a corner kick and gave the buggers the lead, how good! Almost immediately there was a lightning delay which lasted more than an hour before the game could resume. Then we had forty minutes of a fired up LAFC team, led by the supreme Carlos Vela, putting the Rapids’ goal under siege. So Colorado chucked out an Anthony Hudson favourite by switching to a back five and that seemed to do the trick. Nothing LAFC had to offer could break down Tommy Smith and his defence. The Rapids held on to win 1-0.

Denver Post: “LAFC had scored 26 goals coming into Friday night and had allowed just 13 this season. The 1-0 loss to Colorado was just the third time this season LAFC has been shut out, and the second time it had been a shutout loss. For a club that was once called out by its past manager for being a bottom group of players, the Rapids snuck past one of the highest paid and best clubs in all of MLS. “The guys were incredible,” Casey said. “Grinding out a result against one of the best teams.” “Theres a bit of a talent gap between us and them,” Tommy Smith said. “But determination can make up for that.””

No Deklan Wynne though. He was ruled out earlier in the week as he continues to recover from that foot injury. Meanwhile there’s nothing to add on Bill Tuiloma with the Portland Timbers either. His leg’s still giving him grief and he was ruled out of both games that Portland played this week without any new information coming out of the club. It’s a waiting game at this point.

Up Next: Colorado vs New England on Friday at 1pm (NZT)

Ali Riley – Chelsea FC (English Super League)

Up Next: Flying the flag for the kiwis in the Super League – she’s the only one still contracted for next season as it stands

Tyler Boyd – Vitória de Guimarães (Portuguese Primeira Liga)

Remember this fella? While he’s out there chipping away for the USA national team in the Gold Cup and looking like a bloody star his club career’s been left in the narrative background but not for long. Reports were always going to emerge of MLS interest after his hot start for the national team, with that brilliant double against Guyana in particular, and sure enough David Beckham’s 2020 expansion side Inter Miami was hovering around. They snapped up his “discovery right”, whatever the hell that means, and were in talks to get him all signed up according to American reports. But it sounds like that never found its way to a happy conclusion because the hot property that this fella is he’s had much bigger interest… the kind of interest that leads to Champions League football…

AS: “In Turkey, several media confirmed Beşiktaş had reached an agreement for the signing of Tyler Boyd for a 2 million euros fee and a three-year deal with the American player who's set to arrive in Istanbul once his Gold Cup participation concludes.”

This is a rather huge deal. Beşiktaş are one of the biggest clubs in Turkey. They’re coming off a season in which they finished third thanks to a strong finish to things, also competing in the group stage of the Europa League which they’ve already qualified for again. No Champions League next season but they were there as recently as 2017-19 when they topped a group that included Porto, Monaco, and Leipzig… going out in the R16 to Bayern Munich. Now there’s a kiwi at each of those clubs (a kiwi and a half, anyway). Seems like this one is a bit of a clue…

Pity he’s not still an All White, woulda been a giggle to see this kind of thing with a kiwi. Also, if doesn’t match the unveiling image that Ankaragücü saved for him. With one season left on his contract back in Portugal there was always the chance he went back there but he fitted in so well with the Turkish style of play so this was always preferable. Beşiktaş are in a little bit of a rebuild at the moment so there’s an opportunity for him to take advantage of all that. Very cool.

Up Next: The transfer is set to be confirmed in a week after the Gold Cup

James McGarry & Michael Woud – Willem II (Dutch Eredivisie)

A notable name in amongst the starters for W2’s first preseason friendly… which went nicely with a 4-0 win in Diessen under the scorching heat with the game taking place in four quarters to allow a couple extra drink breaks. And there was Jimmy McG, aye? This could be a sneaky big season for him as regular left back Diego Palacios continues to be linked with Barcelona and Willem II are on record as saying they’re looking to target cheaper international players with how expensive the Dutch folks are these days. McGarry had one decent effort cleared off the line before he and the entire rest of the starters were subbed off after the second quarter. Michael Woud was not involved as he’s still on holiday after his U20 World Cup schedule.

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Looking forward to the new season. ☀️⚽️

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Up Next: Plenty more friendlies where that one came from

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

Also on the preseason buzz, Marco Rojas seems to be putting together a pretty bloody useful preseason so far. Last week he earned a penalty for Sonders while starting in a friendly against Malmo. This week he scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Odense. Grabbed the winner late in the first half and he was then one of ten players subbed off at the break with an emphasis on getting everyone involved. Early days yet but he’s looking like a first eleven fixture right now. “Marco Rojas scored the only goal of the match when, shortly before the break, he put the ball in after good play from Christian Jakobsen and Alexander Bah.”

Up Next: New season begins in two weeks’ time

Jeremy Brockie – Mamelodi Sundowns (South African Premier Soccer League)

This one’s taking its time to unfold but it’s still most likely that Jeremy Brockie is playing his football away from Mamelodi Sundowns next season having completely fallen out of the picture there and more likely than not he’ll end up at another South African club. Kaizer Chiefs have been steadily linked to him for a couple months now. Here’s the bloke’s agent doing the rounds…

Mike Makaab: “Sundowns are a very reasonable club and they understand that Jeremy needs to be playing regularly. I don’t think the figure will be that high, in fact it wasn’t even close to that amount in the beginning. But I can tell you that it has dropped because we need to find a solution for the player. But it is likely that Jeremy will not be playing for Sundowns when the new season starts (in August). We are working on it, but this one is a little more complex and will take time.”

Makaab also admits to something that Brockie himself has said which is that reports of the ten millions rands he cost in his transfer fee from SuperSport to Sundowns are greatly exaggerated. Which in this case means that his current club are unlikely to want to hold out for any similar level of fee, which is handy. Brockie has one more year on his Sundowns contract while the club have an option to extend beyond that which there’s zero percent chance they’ll want to do. Makaab also had a lot to say about Brockie’s potential destinations and his status at Sundowns…

Mike Makaab: “Kaizer Chiefs have not shown the interest that the media is talking about. I don’t know where that comes from. Those are just rumours. There are clubs that are interested in him locally but we also have clubs outside the country, especially in Europe so we’ll be looking at all the opportunities for Jeremy. He is (still) a Sundowns player and he will start pre-season training with them. Obviously, we’ll work hard to make sure that we find a solution for both the club and Jeremy. But if that solution doesn’t suit Jeremy, he will stay at Sundowns.”

“We have to understand the fact that if the technical team says that his style of play doesn’t suit the club, we have to respect that and try and find a solution but as we stand he is a Sundowns player, he is a professional and he will fulfil his duties and obligations at the club. They haven’t made it clear that he is not part of their plans for the new season, but they have indicated their style of play doesn’t suit Jeremy’s strengths. Jeremy is a goalscorer. For two seasons, he was a highest goalscorer in South Africa by far. Good football players don’t become bad overnight, particularly players who score goals. If he can bang in one or two goals, he could end up scoring 15 goals but for that to happen, he has to be given a real opportunity. Not 30 minutes.”

Chances are this is old mate trying to firm up those Kaizer Chiefs rumours into something substantial, especially with the chat that Brockie is fine continuing on with Sundowns if he has to. Which doesn’t make a lot of competitive sense for Brockie or the club but whatever gets the Chiefs into motion, you know. Interesting to hear there’s interest from Europe too… wonder how serious that is and whether Brockie would entertain it. He’s pretty comfortable in South Africa, tbh.

Up Next: Largely up to Mr Agent then, ain’t it?

Winston Reid – West Ham United (English Premier League) “West Ham United returned for pre-season training on Monday morning before heading off for an eleven-day training camp in the Swiss Alps. New signings Roberto and David Martin joined their teammates at Rush Green before the players went through a series of screenings and tests, under the supervision of Head of Medical Richard Collinge and his team. After lunch, the squad departed for Stansted Airport, from where they flew to Switzerland to begin the first phase of their pre-season.

The training camp will culminate with a friendly match against Austrian Bundesliga side SCR Altach on Thursday 11 July. Joining Roberto and Martin was a strong squad, headed by skipper Mark Noble and the likes of Felipe Anderson, Issa Diop, Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere. Andriy Yarmolenko, Carlos Sanchez and Winston Reid, who all missed the majority of last season with injury, are also on the trip and will hope to impress manager Manuel Pellegrini and his staff.”

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Up Next: Preseason, matey

Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

Up Next: The hard stuff

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