Serbian club FK Jagodina set to sign Freddy Adu

1 Comment

Morning speculation has given way to afternoon publicity. After whispers early Thursday that Freddy Adu was about to sign in Serbia, the SuperLiga’s FK Jagodina is ready to take the plunge. According today’s announcement on the club’s website, the final details are being ironed out in a deal that will land the American midfielder in the Balkans.

Adu has recently been on trial in the Netherlands and with Blackpool in the English second division. Now the increasingly exotic list of clubs that dot the former prospect’s résumé is about to add an another name. Jagodina’s set to be the 10th club in the 25-year-old’s 11-year career, not counting trials.

Jagodina finished third in last year’s SuperLiga, albeit 23 points behind second place Partizan. The finish earned the Blues a chance to qualify for this years Europa League, an opportunity lost when they were defeated by Romania’s CFR Cluj in the second play-in round.

Though the team has never won a first division title, Jagodina have made the last two Serbian Cup finals, winning the trophy in 2013.

For those holding out hope Adu can still make an impact for the United States, today’s news is a discouraging reminder of where his career has done. At the same time, it’s also a credit to his agent, who continues to find places willing to sign the former prodigy. While you could argue the player’s stature (or, standards) has made him into a vagabond, his representation continues to find new places willing to buy into the hype.

That may sound weird from this half of the world, where the hype died out a long ago, but consider the nature of Jagodina’s announcement. Even before officially signing the former U.S. international, Jagodina’s promoting his mere arrival. The tour of the facility? Meeting executives? It’s all up on the website. If something falls through as the sides work out the details? At least the club got some publicity out of it.

Is Adu a player that can close the gap between Jagodina and Partisan? Probably not, but is this a player that can get the club mentioned throughout international soccer media? In the United States, at least, yes.

Perhaps Adu’s not a pure publicity stunt, but he’s a dice roll that comes with some unique benefits, and for an ambitious club that’s gone from the third tier in 2007 to three straight Europa League qualifying appearances, it may represent the next step in the club’s progression.

And only 25, it may yet represent a chance to progress for Adu, too.

Zlatan announces LA, MLS arrival in bizarre fashion

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has arrived in Major League Soccer.

The veteran striker terminated his contract at Manchester United earlier this week and the 36-year-old Swede will reportedly signed a two-year deal worth over $3 million per season with the LA Galaxy.

He confirmed that the Galaxy will be his club on Friday by taking out a full page advert in the LA Times in typically sarcastic fashion.

Zlatan kept it short and sweet, as the Galaxy’s new No. 9 will certainly be a blast in MLS, just for his off-the-field antics alone.

VIDEO: Usain Bolt trains with Borussia Dortmund

Leave a comment

Usain Bolt has taken part in his first proper training session with Borussia Dortmund’s first team as he continues to chase his dream of being a professional soccer player.

The eight-time Olympic champion, who retired as a sprinter earlier in 2017 after the World Championships, is on a two-day tryout with Dortmund which many are merely saying is a publicly stunt.

Yet with Dortmund allowing Bolt, 31, the chance to train with first team stars on Friday it may be a little more than just a chance for media members to flock to watch Dortmund in an open training session. Given the fact that Dortmund are sponsored by Puma, the same sponsor Bolt has, many are connecting the dots and it was a laid back training session on Friday as Bolt spent plenty of time signing autographs after scoring a header and a penalty kick.

Remember: Bolt is a lifelong Manchester United and has mentioned many times over the years that he would like to turn to professional soccer.

Earlier this month he announced he will captain a World XI at Old Trafford in a UNICEF charity game in June 2018, with Bolt teasing the planet on social media by saying he had signed for a soccer team. With his speed, power and size, is it really that far-fetched to think he could be a good targetman if he can sort out his hold up play and work on his endurance to last 90 minutes?

Watch the videos below as the Jamaican superstar scored a pretty solid PK, took part in training and obviously had most of Dortmund’s star players, such as Mario Gotze and Nuri Sahin, in awe.

Let’s see what the future holds for Bolt, but this is probably little more than Peter Stoeger and Dortmund having a longstanding offer accepted by Bolt to train with them. Maybe he could turn out for Dortmund’s reserve squad in a scrimmage and go from there?

Pique finds solidarity with criticized NBA players

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz

There have been a number f outstanding pieces in The Players’ Tribune since its launch, but few as colorful and entertaining as Thursday’s entry from Gerard Pique.

The Barcelona star center back spilled the beans on any number of funny stories in his post, from Roy Keane’s cell phone anger and Sir Alex Ferguson‘s guiding hand to Lionel Messi’s greatness and more.

[ MORE: Zlatan in MLS an auto success ]

But perhaps most interesting was his take on the grief he’s received for supporting the vote for Catalan independence. Pique points out that he’s been proud to represent the Spanish national team, but won’t veer from his democratic beliefs.

And guess what? Even in Spain, athletes rightly bristle at the “Stick to Sports” crowd.

It’s funny, I noticed some people in America have started telling the NBA players to “just shut up and dribble” when they express their opinions on real problems in society.

It’s ridiculous, no?

It’s the same here in Spain. They say, “Just shut up and play football. It’s all you know.”

Sorry, but I will not just shut up and play. It’s not all I know. There’s a lot more depth to footballers than most people realize, and I think it’s important that we express ourselves and our views.

Given relative health, Zlatan’s success MLS is close to automatic

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The only question is his knee at his age.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is coming to Major League Soccer. Having confirmed his departure from Manchester United, the announcement that the living Swedish legend is joining the LA Galaxy is expecting next week.

[ MORE: MLS Weekend Preview ]

Some have asked whether he’ll cut muster in the league, to which we point to the lead: Few players have arrived to MLS with as dominant a career as Ibrahimovic, and the Swede would need his knee to fall apart in order to fail in California.

The man’s game isn’t based on speed, but it does require his abnormal power and grace. He scored just once for United in very limited time this season, but don’t forget how dangerous he was against Premier League and Europa League defenses last season.

He scored 28 goals with 10 assists last season, with 17 and 5 coming in league play. He was suspended for three matches and injured for seven, meaning this is a 20-goal Premier League scorer arriving in MLS within a calendar year of doing so.

Try putting his resume in perspective: Didier Drogba was extremely good for Montreal but a half-decade removed from his last double-digit goal PL season (Don’t forget that Drogba bagged 11 in 11 to start life on our shores). Robbie Keane was about the same time removed from his run of 10-plus goal seasons in the Premier League. He was good for LA.

The only risk here is that Ibrahimovic never gets healthy and LA takes a bit of a loss on his salary (one which is at least partially negated by the sheer number of Ibrahimovic Galaxy jerseys sold).

Entering this season, Ibrahimovic had failed to score 15 goals once since 2006. He’a also had a fairly religious assist output (10+ most years). With names like Alessandrini, Kamara, and dos Dos Santos, this should be a stand-up double if not a homer for LA and for MLS.

Plus the vicious looks after teammates miss him badly with a pass, let alone the press conferences and paparazzi hits: This should be a lot of fun.