Bryan Arguez just boarded a flight on Thursday that will take him across the Atlantic Ocean and he has more waiting for him across the pond than just another soccer team. He has an opportunity to salvage a career that has hit bottom just three years in.
Arguez is heading to Portugal to join his new club, second-division side Estoril, and he knows his third club in three seasons could be his last chance to live up to the promise he showed when he made his lone Bundesliga appearance at the age of 19.
"I'm excited for this move because it's a fresh start," Arguez said just before departing for Portugal. "I know I've made a bad name for myself already for the past few years and I'm getting another chance to clear my name.
"I have something to prove, but not to anyone else but myself."
Arguez is still very young, he just turned 21 last week, but he speaks like a veteran of his share of career turmoil. Sold to Hertha Berlin by D.C. United after just one season in MLS (a season during which he didn't play a single match), Arguez's European career got off to a promising start when he made his Bundesliga debut just a month after signing.
That would be his only appearance for Hertha Berlin during a tenure that grew worse and worse as he struggled to adapt to life in Europe. Disciplinary issues that Arguez admits blame for didn't help matters and he eventually found himself out of favor. After some failed attempts to secure loan deals, Arguez terminated his own contract with Hertha Berlin. The move cost him a good amount of money, but his desperation with his situation at Hertha led to the decision.
"It was pretty frustrating, but it was also my fault for not doing what I needed to do," Arguez said. "I just had to get over that stage of being unprofessional.
"I had no future there," Arguez said of Hertha Berlin. "Everything about it was bad. I had some discipline complaints in the beginning and that gave them a bad impression early on and it never really got better."
"You hear about players coming back from Europe and you think that those guys are weak because they can't stay overseas, but once you're over there you understand why people come back."
Disciplinary issues weren't limited to his time in Germany. He was one of four players sent home from an Under-20 national team camp early in 2009. The dismissal was a likely reason why Arguez was not named to the original Under-20 World Cup roster, but Arguez wound up on the roster after being named to replace injured midfielder Sam Garza.
Arguez made the most of the second chance by scoring in the U.S. team's lone Under-20 World Cup victory, a 4-1 drubbing of Cameroon. His play in the middle of the field that day, not just the goal but his movement and passing ability, served as a reminder of why he had been bought by a Bundesliga club at the age of 18. His successful tournament form was also made impressive by the fact that he wound up playing more in the Under-20 World Cup than he had played in his previous three professional seasons combined.
Arguez's success at the Under-20 World Cup served as motivation for him to start over professionally. after cutting ties with Hertha Berlin, Arguez signed with Traffic Sports-owned Miami FC, which then loaned him to Estoril. He will join fellow U.S. Under-20 player Tony Taylor, a childhood friend who assured him that the club was a good place to recharge his career.
"I'm going over there and I'm planning to get playing time," Arguez said. "It's a good place, and a good level of soccer and I'm excited to be able get going again and just play soccer."
What lies ahead for Arguez remains to be seen, but the fact that he has matured enough to acknowledge his own past mistakes bodes well for him succeeding in his second stint in Europe.