U.S. Youth National Teams

Agbossoumonde confident about his future


photo by Max Becherer/ISIphotos.com


SUNRISE, Fla.- Gale Agbossoumonde is in a unique situation.

Fresh off of making his senior national team debut and going through a second U-20 cycle with the U.S. youth national team, Agbossoumounde is being looked at by U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen to provide leadership to the group despite having an unsettled and somewhat troubling club situation.

Agbossoumonde feels prepared to tackle that challenge head on, however, as his club woes look to end in the form of a loan to Swedish club Djurgardens IF, which finished in 10th place in the Allsvenskan this season.

"I'm supposed to be going to Sweden on the 15th," said Agbossoumonde. "It's supposed to be a loan until the rest of the season.

"It's not a finalized deal. I'm not 100 percent sure if I'm going, but it's like a 90 percent."

Leading the Stockholm-based club will be new manager Magnus Pehrsson, who is no stranger to Agbossoumonde's skillset. 

Pehrsson was originally intrigued by Agbossoumonde following the centerback's performances at the 2009 U-20 World Cup in Egypt. Then the manager of Aalborg BK, Pehrsson tried to acquire Agbossoumonde following the tournament, but lost out to Sporting Braga.

"He was trying to get me to go over there before I went to Braga from (my performances in) the U-20 World Cup," said Agbossoumonde. "He just went to the Swedish team and then he's getting me over there."

Should things go according to plan, Agbossoumonde would leave the U.S. U-20 national team's January camp a day or two before it ends to travel to Sweden, where he believes he'll be able to establish himself and get games every week.

The 19-year-old's confidence shouldn't come as a surprise. In November, despite not having played at the club level since 2009, Agbossoumonde received a call-up from U.S. men's national team head coach Bob Bradley. The timing was a bit unfortunate for Agbossoumonde, but he accepted the call nonetheless.

"I was supposed to go on a trial, and the day I was leaving was the day I got the call so I didn't go on the trial," said Agbossoumonde. "I was going to go to SK Sigma Olomouc in Czech Republic."

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound player made a late cameo in the U.S. national team's friendly against South Africa on Nov. 17 (his 19th birthday), helping preserve a 1-0 lead in his first cap.

"I was really, really nervous before the game and during the warmups, but once I was going in, it was like another game," said Agbossoumonde.

That he felt that way might be seen as refreshing, especially since the 19-year-old centerback has had anything but a stellar start to his professional career. Having signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Traffic Sport in August 2009, Agbossoumonde has made just six professional appearances, all for USSF D2 Pro League club Miami FC. None of those came in 2010.

That's not to say that Agbossoumonde's lack of minutes and uncertainty in regards to his future had no negative impact on him.

"It takes a toll on you, knowing that you have to be with a different team pretty soon and sort of like tryout," said Agbossoumonde. "But it is all a learning experience because once I find the team where I'm going to stay, I should be okay from all the past experiences." 

Agbossoumonde has turned that negative past experiences into newfound confidence. Openly frustrated at Traffic a few months ago, the Togolese-born defender now feels differently about the company that owns his rights.

"I don't really feel that angry towards Traffic," said Agbossoumonde. "At the time when I did, I was just frustrated. It was just like a heat of the moment kind of thing.

"Traffic owns me, but I'm the player. If I'm doing all the right things – if I was Ronaldo or something – I wouldn't be in that situation. I've got to look at it that way too because it's not their fault."

Agbossoumonde believes Traffic will likely sell him to a club within the next year, but for now he is focusing on the U-20 national team and its quest to reach the 2011 U-20 World Cup.

"We have to qualify, but I don't think we should have any problem with that because this team is better than the last one," said Agbossoumonde. "There's a lot more talent in this group, so I think we'll do better than we did last time."

An in-form and confident Agbossoumonde anchoring the U.S. backline would be a major asset to the U-20 team's hopes of qualifying for and getting passed the group stages in the U-20 World Cup in 2011. Whether he'll be in form remains to be seen, but the confidence is already there, and only as a result of the struggles he's already endured.

"The last cycle helped me out a lot," said Agbossoumonde. "That's how I got to Braga in the first place, and even though things didn't work out, I come into this cycle a little more confident."

  • The Dude

    Oy! This fool needs to come play in the MLS. The Fire, amongst others, could really use him.


  • DanO

    What’s better for kids like Boss, bouncing around 2nd tier European leagues and not getting PT for average teams, or developing at home in an MLS system?

    Granted PT is not guaranteed in MLS either…

    I’m assuming the money is better in Europe, but how much?

    I’m not sure what the answer is for kids like this.


  • montana matt

    Thanks for the update Franco. He is such a promising talent, but his situation is fairly confusing.


  • Louis Z

    I been following his career somewhat and he did had the chance to join the MLS but thought the offer was below his expectations. Now he needs to perform at the club level wherever that may take him and with a good showing in the U20 WC he may be able to hookup with a better team. I like the tandem of a 6’2 and a 6’4 centerbacks, currently those positions are probably taken by EDU(6’1) and Goodson (6’4) for the future looks like (Marshall or Gonzalez) have the 6’4, for the 6’2 it’s an open field with probably BOSS/Ream/? waiting for their chance.


  • Gage

    Seems like their season doesn’t start until March. What’s the rush? Am I missing something?


  • RLW2020

    Traffic is a Brazilian marketing company that also owns a few clubs. They focus on finding talent and bringing them up to the european stage. I guess they have some relationship with Miami FC as well.

    Seems like a good concept.. as good as their actual connections are.


  • zaggy

    Seriously? You need to do some more reading up. Outfits like this were behind all the rideculousness with Masecherno and Tevez in England, and now with Gale. Yes, he gets paid a salary, but he gets no say in where he goes or what team he plays for. If the ownership group can find a better offer, even at a worse team, they have every right to sell the players rights to that team. Look at Gale so far? He’s been offered deals at like half a dozen second tier Euro clubs, but Traffic didn’t feel like the money was right, so they wouldn’t sell him. Its borderline slavery.


  • Adrian

    Traffic is a very shady company. Read up about the complaints against them, they are numerous.

    They tie up young talent and whore them out for a profit, with little to no regard for their actual career or betterment. It’s a company that preys on younger player blinded by stardom.

    I think a similar comparison can be seen in American agents tricking young Latin American baseball players into loans they have no hope of repaying in order to leverage them into their service.

    People like that make me sick.


  • JohnC

    I wish this kid the best considering his talent is immense but the situation he has put himself in comes off as arrogant and dumb. He skipped a trial in Czech and it was not even Prague and now he is going to a bottom feeder team in Sweeden. In the last 16 months he has only played 5 games for a USL team and to cap it all off one of the people who continues to try to help him out and bring him to as many U20 camps and push him onto the senior team Thomas Rongen has to kick him out of a practice in the November U20 camp.

    Here is a lesson for all 17, 18 and 19 yr old kids in America: Generation Adidas Contract with MLS with fair treatment from club and good standard of living is better than signing your life away to some Sports Agency in Brazil. He would have been half way through his first contract with MLS and maybe have a starting position by now.


  • KFree

    in the lead up to the gold cup, it will be edu or goodson, not both at centerback. you still have gooch in the picture, and with demerit finally with a home you can’t count him out of bradley’s plans completely either.


  • DirtyLeeds

    If MLS had offered him more then like $40k per year (or whatever he was offered that he felt was insulting) then maybe we would find out.


  • Adrian

    This isn’t some kid who needs to fight for playing time or space in the general sense.

    He is clearly wanted and desired. At 19, he will probably be starting in the first division in a decent to good league.

    Not only will he be starting, but his level of exposure to larger European squads will be 10x anything that he could achieve in MLS.


  • Aaron in StL

    Good that you have it all figured out. MLS does not treat these kids (or any player for that matter) with some supreme TLC. Hell, Conrad has been in the league for ages and now that his contract’s up the best he can do is a “re-entry draft”.

    Not comparing MLS to Traffic… but it’s not a free market in the true sense for a lot of these kids coming from the US unless they can get a contract with a Euro club. It’s good to see Boss have a little more mature outlook on this whole situation, although he could just be softening his stance in hopes of a quicker move


  • DingDong

    As a lifelong DIF fan, I would like to point out they are not a “bottom feeder.” They almost won the league in 2007 and they did win it in 2005 (along with the top Cup). The last two or three years have been rough, but they won’t be bad for long.


  • Swede

    Bottom feeder team in Sweden eh? You clearly know nothing of swedish soccer. Teaching lessons might not be your place considering that your knowledge is clearly substandard. If you think the standard of living is poor here you also need a wake up call.


  • Igor

    They’re a 3rd party outfit that owns Miami FC, Estoril Praia in the Portuguese 2nd division, and maybe some Brazilian team. They also (quasi-illegally) own the rights to several players, including Gale, Tony Taylor, and Bryan Arguez. They try to place these players at European teams on loan, then sell them if they do well (like Joorabchian with tevez). Unfortunately, they’ve lately been dumping everyone at GD Estoril, because they can’t find any buyers.


  • EndTraffic

    Seems like he seems to blame himself (If I was playing like Ronaldo this wouldn’t be happening). There’s only one or two guys this works for like Tevez. For the rest like Boss, signing with Traffic is a disastrous decision.


  • Louis Z

    I think Gooch is going to be a long shot. he still riding the pine and he didn’t have a good WC. I think BB will be taking a wait and see attitude with him. Goodson has been looking more and more reliable. His only knock was that he was part of the 0-5 gold cup final against mexico.


  • GW

    “Here is a lesson for all 17, 18 and 19 yr old kids in America: Generation Adidas Contract with MLS with fair treatment from club and good standard of living is better than signing your life away to some Sports Agency in Brazil. ”

    Have you ever been to Sweden?


  • b

    Boss needs to

    1. Grow up. Getting thrown out of U20 camp by Rongen is embarrassing. He is a bit too emotional and easily angered. Dude you are an adult and a professional now, behave like it.

    2. Make better career decisions. Indentured servitude is almost never a wise move, even if it pays better than the alternative in the short term.

    3. Find a decent contracts attorney and figure out if Traffic have broken any of the verbal promises they made to him, and try to get out of the contract.


  • Paul C

    You should seriously think before you speak. I know this is the internet, where any idiot can rant at any other idiot, but think about a single fact before you start berating a YOUNG man.

    He was a kid who clearly got taken advantage of.

    If anything, his parents and/or advisors should be getting your diatribe, not him.


  • Reid

    guy, you are assuming that he is going to Sweden. JohnC is talking about the standard of living in US compared to the crapshoot that Traffic would have him go to which could be anywhere from Sweden to Albania


  • yankiboy

    The offer was in the lower 6 figures.

    So it was probably someplace around $107K or something.

    Not bad for an 18 year kid who hasn’t done anything professionaly yet.


  • yankiboy

    With the exception of the 1st point (it seems like the kid is already showing that he maturing and is progressing)–I think that point 2 and 3 were very good ones.

    His parents and/or advisors let him down and should get the diatribe but he is a YOUNG MAN who now needs to take a hold of his own destiny, as mucha as is possible. When he can be back in charge of where he wants to be professionally then the points 2 and 3 are going to serve him really well.

    #1, a litlle bit over the top and piling on.

    #2 and #3–a bit obvious but still some good advice. obviously way better than the advice he got a couple years back given how unhappy he recently was.

    I remember when he signed that deal and saw him play with Miami FC.

    People want to kill Rongen over Subotic–and i do beleive that he does bare the lion share of the blame in that situation–but this time, from a distance, it looks like Rongen has tried to do his best to mentor this young man.


  • b

    “but think about a single fact before you start berating”

    “With the exception of the 1st point (it seems like the kid is already showing that he maturing and is progressing)”

    Apparently I’m an internet idiot ranting, yet here are two single facts to think about:

    He got in a yelling match with Rongen and got thrown out of practice.
    He almost got into a fight with members of the Mexican U20 team (granted they are jerks and were going after Salgado).

    Both of those incidents happened in late November, that’s less than a month ago, so I’m not sure how exactly he’s showing that he’s maturing and progressing.


  • yankiboy

    I am hopeful that the current news of some light at the end of the tunnel has helped the kid get a bit more balanced.

    I’ll give him a pass on the incident with El Tri but he needs to keep his head in the future –unless we or they somehow manage to leave CONCACAF and those games disappear because all of the sudden they stop amking money. He is going to be seeing some of the guys for a long time into the future so now is the time to start to try to learn to maintain a cooler head.

    I am hoping that he is going to be more grounded and less likely to get all hyped up. Based on his most recent statements and the fact that he seems to want to go forward and not backwards.

    So maybe it would have been better for me to say that I have FAITH that he is “maturing and progressing” given these most recent, calmer comments and the apparent resolution of his key frustration of not finding a home and his discontent with his Traffic deal.


  • Warren

    The $37k that was Holden’s last MLS salary before he broke into Bolton’s lineup should answer your question as to why kids are tempted to bolt for Europe at first opportunity.

    Not to mention the benefits of training with and playing day in and day out against better players even in 2nd tier Euro leagues.

    And the ‘6figure’ salary offered Gale by MLS must include his health benefits, I believe the salary offered was in $80k range. Not bad for a young kid and double what Holden was working for, but it’s easy to see how a kid who grew up partially in African refugee camps would have – money – on his mind from a yound age and be seduced by Clavijo’s sweet talk. Unfortunately.

    So you can blame Gale, or Traffic, but reality is MLS still has a ways to go in treating its own players decently. Euro soccer players in places like Sweden and Denmark – have a good life.


  • Warren

    His father was a general killed in Africa during political unrest; you can blame the mom, or you can learn more about their circumstances as refugees coming into US.

    If soccer is -literally – your meal ticket essentially from age 15, not that shocking that the kid makes a mistake at age 18.


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