Ladies and gentleman, we have a James McClean sighting.
Reports from both the U.S. and the Republic of Ireland say that the Wigan Athletic winger has been spotted in New York City over the weekend ahead of a potential move to the New York Red Bulls.
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McClean, 26, was linked with a move to Orlando City last week but it now seems to be heading to the Big Apple to reinforce Jesse Marsch’s attacking options as the Red Bulls sit in third place in the Eastern Conference with just one defeat in nine to start the season.
After making his name at Sunderland, McClean moved to Wigan Athletic in 2013 and has played in the Championship over the past two seasons after Wigan’s relegation under Roberto Martinez. Despite Wigan being relegated from England’s second-tier this season, McClean was their top scorer with six goals and won both of the Player of the Year awards.
The man from Derry has one year remaining on his contract at Wigan but with the Latics slipping into the third-tier of English soccer, the Republic of Ireland international seems ready for a new test. Whether or not moving to MLS will hurt his chances of playing for his national team remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t hinder Robbie Keane of the LA Galaxy.
Is this a good addition for RBNY?
With other British players faring well at Red Bull Arena in recent seasons (Bradley Wright-Phillips and Lloyd Sam spring to mind) McClean could follow in their footsteps of being a young, hungry player who is keen to make a name for himself. Of course his past has been troubled as the man born in Northern Ireland chose to represent the Republic and then caused uproar in the English Premier League in 2012 after refusing to wear a poppy on his shirt when playing for Sunderland. McClean didn’t want to honor the British soldiers following their difference with his homeland in the past, and plenty of soccer fans across England still haven’t forgotten that. Maybe a move to North America would be a fresh start?
McClean is a fantastic winger who brings pace and power to the flank but he can also finish when he has a chance. He scored four times in seven outings for Ireland in 2014, including a goal in their 4-1 victory over the U.S. national team last November. On paper it seems like McClean would be a great fit for Marsch’s side.