Four years ago Collins John's future looked limitless.
He was a 20-year-old goal-scoring sensation for Fulham, notching double-digit goals for the Cottagers in a 2005/2006 season that couldn't have gone much better. Instead of being the kickoff of a blossoming career, that dream season wound up being the premature peak for a young talent who has spent the past four years trying to recapture that magic he spun at Craven Cottage.
Four years and four teams later, John finds himself in the United States, trying to revive his once-promising career by securing a contract with the Chicago Fire. The Dutch striker is traveling with the Fire to Arizona for a trial, where he is hoping to find a good fit with the club after recent stints in England, the Netherlands and Belgium.
"Football is up and down sometimes," John said in an interview with SBI. "Two years ago I was up and the last two years I've been down so I'm trying to pick it up again and hopefully it will be this year.
"You can't really say 'from now for the next five years I'm going to be playing well or scoring goals'," John said. "The first three years at Fulham I was playing every game. I played in the biggest league in the world, I was scoring goals and was having fun, and for a few reasons it went another way.
"Hopefully this year I can turn it around again. That's what I'm trying to do."
So how did John's trial with Chicago come about? His agent is a former teammate of Fire technical director Frank Klopas so when Klopas was told that John was available and looking for a fresh start, Klopas wasted no time in flying out to meet John to see if it was a move worth pursuing. The meeting has resulted in a trial that is as much for John to see how comfortable he feels with the Fire as it is about John proving himself.
"It says a lot that he's come out here because he's also risking a lot too," Klopas said. "The transfer window is closed in Europe now and he decided to come here and give it a try and with his ability it could wind up being a great move for everybody."
John is no stranger to the United States, having visited on several occasions through the years. A teammate of Brian McBride's at Fulham, John also spoke to former Fulham teammate and friend Carlos Bocanegra about Chicago and the possibility of playing in MLS.
"(Bocanegra) just told me that it was a good club with good fans and it could be a city I would enjoy," John said. "He told me I might like it and I might now like it, so that's why I'm here, to find out.
"I know a little about MLS. There have been some Dutch players to play in the league, like Dave Van Den Bergh, and as a football fan I know a little about it. I've played with Bocanegra, Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey.
"Something in me just told me to try out America," John said. "I'm just happy to be here, I'm enjoying the time and I'm glad to know a few guys and a lot of guys have made me feel welcome."
The Fire will keep the welcome mat out for John if he can emerge as a reliable scoring threat to partner alongside McBride. With Chris Rolfe having bolted to Denmark, Chicago will need to replace his goal scoring and John has the combination of size, speed and ball skills to be one of the best forwards in MLS.
It is also easy to forget that John is still just 24. Having started his career at a young age (he made his debut for the Dutch national team at 18) John enjoyed plenty of success early on. Whether he has learned from the struggles of recent years will soon be found out by a Fire team looking to rebuild an attack that has lost both Rolfe and playmaker Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
"He hasn't forgotten how to play," Klopas said of John. "When you think about how young he is and how much talent he has, he might just need a change of scenery and if he can get back to being the player he can be, it's going to be fun to watch."
What do you think of John joining the Fire? Can you see him reviving his career in MLS? Looking forward to a McBride-John forward line? Think John will struggle in MLS, assuming he signs?
Share your thoughts below.
Ugliest man in football
The Galaxy should have went after this man…Arena is only concerned with defense. He doesn’t build around his star players.
If someone has a reputation for not understanding the offside rule, that is pretty bad. That is a basic indication that a player has very limited tactical knowledge of the game. You need to be smart as well as athletically gifted to be a good player. If I was a Chicago fan I wouldn’t expect much from this.
I’m confused. I thought Ives hates the Fire. This is a nicely done piece on Collins John. He could be a nice addition for the league. I just wish we knew why he fell out of favor with other teams.
As a Chicago Fire Supporter I LOVE this move by the club. Lots of upside, little downside. McBride having experience with the kid is only gonna help him. Our management has had a GREAT offseason with our roster. Can’t wait to see how C.Bone does on his first year out…FIRE TIL I DIE! Can’t wait for the season to get going!
this could be a great signing for them and MLS.
I love sarcasm. Its s-a-r-c-a-s-m, right?
Will they be playing at Toyota Cottage this year?
100% the truth… I am sure Ives did not want to call him out but the fact remains John could not even play 45 mins of football for NEC Njimigen… He has a piss poor attitude and Roy Hodgson wanted nothing to do with him once he saw his training ha bits and lack of drive. I hope he turns it around but I really doubt it…Last chance saloon here.
It is on. Forget the Matrix, this is Chicago Reloaded.
As a Fire fan I am cautiously optimistic about Collins joining the team. If he can revert to partial form from Fulham days he will be a GREAT addition. I am still a bit concerned about our defense though after losing Baky and Segares. It will be interesting to see how things go this year. GO FIRE!!
so if players are not in the premier league their trying to revive their careers?! it still amazes me ppl. only look @ the epl or nothing. small world.
veron doesnt need a rebound. Europe served that purpose for him. He’s lighting it up just fine at the club he’s playing at. I seem to recall him even playing in the recent World Club Championship cup, and almost taking out barca.
i prefer to call their supporters and players as
I am more worried that he blamed the last two (really three) season’s fall on the up and down nature of soccer. From what I hear it was more about his lack of fitness, his poor attitude, and his poor form in practice. He should have manned up and taken some responsibility if he’s ready to win (back) some supporters and turn his career around.
Brett — I was about to post the same thing referencing British slang. “Officially” Patrick likes it. [Insert Beavis and Butthead laugh track]. I am amazed at my immaturity. I am now going to make fart noises with my arm pit. [More Beavis.]
I hope he revives his career for his benefit and the league’s benefit. I wish DC could have gotten him.
Urban Dictionary is gross.
Collins John is about to be the BEST forward in the league! Having him and Mcbride uptop will be perfect… John creating the chances while Mcbride holds the ball and cleans up… They will be talking about this partnership all year! LETS GO FIRE!!!!!!
You might want to google the word “cottager” before you go around proclaiming yourself as one…
Go ahead, do it.
I’d be more worried if not for the fact that they have McBride there who has first-hand knowledge of John. I assume McBride’s input must have been that whatever personal problems may have existed have either resolved or at least were not so huge as for John not to be worth a trial.
Agreed, there are players that could still play in the EPL, etc.
But this is a player that probably didn’t make LJungberg type money, still has long future to consider and decided MLS was the way to go.
Go soccer in the US.
He has been suspended at multiple clubs for disciplinary issues. There is always the issue of giving millions of dollars to teenagers and the potential adverse affects.
Seriously, I’ll take Robinho, Veron, and Anderson while trying to revive their careers. We’re still not quite there yet, but the thought is exciting.
My guess would be a cost of around 225k a year against the cap.
TFC has done this a couple of times with mixed results. Rohan Ricketts is a player that comes to mind that was in the same sort of situation. They also brought over the French left footed player whose name I can’t remember.
I guess it is worth a shot. With the cap where it is he will need to make a considerable contribution to stay around.
Ives – If Mr. John will not be the DP, who, if anyone, will the Fire be bringing in as a DP?
I’m intrigued by the upside, and have always really liked the idea of MLS taking chances on talented younger players, especially ones that they might be able to sell for profit later on.
My only question is why did he fall off so much? I mean it could be completely bad luck, but a lot of times there are personal issues that go along with those kinds of drops. Any input?
If he does sign and can find half of his form from Fulham then he would be worth it. Rolfe is a good player but never really score a lot of goals. Never double digits. Blanco doesn’t score goals either. So we didnt lose a lot of goals this season and we are bringing in goal scorers. Martinez can hit some bombs and take our free kicks and John is a legit goal scoring threat, that I can think of, since Demani Ralph. So once again we have the deepest, strongest roster in MLS. Now lets see how the new coach and players can gel together. I’m looking forward to the season.
Played his best with McBride – would be a verrry successful partnership if they can find some rhythm. Fantastic potential signing if this happens – a gamble I would happily see DC take, but more so MLS. Exciting, strikers get butts in seats.
Ives – Any idea how much John would be looking for salary-wise???
Well, it’s referring to the park where they play, and the supporters are there just as much as the players. Plus, “cottager supporters” doesn’t really sound right.
couldnt tell you “officially” but I like it
Supposedly he was tearing it up at practice yesterday with the Fire. If he can re-discover that vigor that made him a sensation 5 years ago with Fulham, he can have a good year with the Fire.
The Fire still has good players, despite the departures of Blanco and Rolfe, with guys like Marco Pappa, Brian McBride, and Wilman Conde as well as good MLS veterans like CJ Brown, Jon Busch and John Thorrington and promising young players like Krzysztof Krol, Julio Martinez, Baggio Husidic and Patrick Nyarko. If De Los Cobos can make this all work, this team can be VERY dangerous this year.
Agreed. Hopefully the first of many to come.
Any idea what his contract will look like if he signs? I’m assuming he’s taking a considerable paycut to play in MLS…
(SBI-He won’t be a Designated Player so that caps him at around 400K. I don’t think he’ll be that high either. If I were a betting man, I’d put his salary between 200K and 300K if he signs.)
^ I agree, it would be better for him to stay longer.
But as long as more talent is cycling through MLS, it’s positive even if it’s a short term stay.
My crystal ball tells me he will get called “Collin Johns” and “John Collins” constantly.
I volunteer for MLS to be the world career-rebound league. This is good stuff.
I really hope it works out for this guy but I also hope he actually stays in the league for longer than a year.
This move is a first (or at least very rare) for the MLS to the best of my memory. This is the first player who has successfully played in a top league, lost form and come to MLS to find it well before the peak (in terms of age) of his career. That says a lot about how far the MLS has come.
Could be the biggest player move into the league this year.
I thought “cottagers’ were Fulham players. Does it refer to fans, too?
Tons of potential upside. This may be a fantastic signing.
Great signing for Chicago…John has huge potential upside and McBride may be the guy to help him find his scoring touch again.
(SBI-Just to clarify, John has NOT signed yet. He’s heading to training camp with Chicago on a trial. Both sides are still feeling each other out so it’s not a done deal yet, but it sounds promising.)
I love this move, the perfect low risk high reward. Yo si le voy, le voy a Chicago!
This has the potential to be a great signing for Chicago.
as a cottager, I’d love to see him get back to his old form. If he does, he could be one of the best players in the MLS.
Good for him. I hope he has much success in the MLS. Except against Chivas USA.
Good article. I was curious how/why this was going down.
If this guy can find a work ethic and learn the offsides rule, he will be very good for Chicago. This is an interesting gamble by Chicago that could have a big upside.