Socceroos head coach Holger Osieck has dropped a huge hint that former Premier League defender Lucas Neill is on his way to North America.
Osieck revealed that the former Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United defender has been in the US arranging his future, as the Australian national team manager spoke about Neill at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea prior to Australia’s East Asian Cup opener.
“Lucas, after we finished our [World Cup] qualifying campaign, went on a short vacation, to my knowledge in America, he is in contact with two clubs, is very likely to sign there.”
After spending the first 15 years of his professional career in England with Millwall, Blackburn, West Ham and Everton, Neill has been a globetrotter of late.
Since leaving England, Neill had a successful season at Turkish giant Galatasaray in 2010-11 before delving into the delights of Middle Eastern soccer. Neill has spent the last two years in the UAE Football League with Al Jazira and Al Wasi before playing four times for Sydney FC at the end of the 2013 A-League season.
So a spell in MLS will see him do the circuit and almost circumnavigate the globe over the past two years. I bet Neill has an impressive stack of frequent flyer miles…
Anyway, he’s currently out of contract but heading into Brazil 2014, Neill will captain the Aussies on yet another World Cup adventure. The 35-year-old is a no-nonsense defender and would add guile and experience to any back line in Major League Soccer.
But which teams could use a solid and dependable right back?
Maybe Toronto FC will add him to the ranks to help with Ryan Nelsen’s rebuild? A Kiwi and and Aussie at BMO Field would be okay and Neill could certainly make a huge difference right away. But TFC should be adding attackers. How about Portland or maybe Chivas USA?
These are all educated guesses.
However I’m sat here thinking to myself, ‘what club really wants to splash a lot of cash on a veteran right back?’ Most MLS teams are set in that area and the likes of New York and Philadelphia have had their fingers burnt in acquiring aging players to plug gaps. Let’s hope they’ve learned their lessons.
Neill is not a bad player, far from it. It is also worth noting that he can play just as well across the back line, as he’s lined up in central defense on various occasions. That will no doubt help his cause, while Neill’s tenacious play and courage won him many fans in England. But as MLS has seen with recent foreign veteran signings — Juninho at the Red Bulls and Barry Robson at Vancouver spring to mind — it is a big gamble to take.
But it seems as though a couple of MLS clubs are willing to take that gamble on Neill, well, if you believe the comments from his manager.