Photo by Kelly L. Cox/ USA Today Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
After a series of stops and starts, A.J. Soares has finally found his new home.
Viking FC announced Monday that Soares has signed an 18-month contract with the club, which is currently in 10th place in Norway’s top division. Soares was previously on trial with the club for the past two weeks.
“We have a great captain here and good coaches and they’ve been very welcoming,” Soares told the club’s website. “That will help with me adapting to the league and to the team. I think those guys have done a really job at helping me learn and get comfortable.
“I know about Viking now and that’s my only concern really. Football is football and the games are going to be difficult, but I’ve gotten to know the group of guys here. I’m very pleased and happy. The team has been very welcoming. I’m looking forward to helping the club and hopefully moving up the table.”
Soares was a starting centerback for the New England Revolution throughout 2014, leading the team to an MLS Cup final appearance. The centerback then opted to pursue moves abroad, most notably a move to Serie A’s Hellas Verona and a training stint with Bob Bradley’s Stabaek.
The 26-year-old says that he is looking forward to a new challenge and familiarizing himself to his new team.
“It’s hard to tell so far because I’ve only played a little bit, but it’s going to be a challenge,” Soares said. “It’s tactically slightly different. I can’t judge on whether it’s better or worse, I have no idea, but I know that in football, when you’re in the league games are difficult, you have to fight, and that’s something I’ll always do for the club.
“I think I can bring good leadership and organization and just an influence to bring the guys together and work for the club. That’s important in football and, if you have that, you always can win any game. That and, hopefully, quality of play. I think I can bring quality to the group.”
What do you think of this move? Disappointed he couldn’t secure a deal in Italy? Think he would have been better off staying with New England, or think Norway is a good springboard for larger leagues in Europe?
Share your thoughts below.
Vic – exactly. At 26, if he had dreams of playing abroad at some point, now is the time to do it.
Not a bad move. Some people just want the opportunity to live and work in a different country. Also we don’t know what they’re paying him. It could be 200k or it could be 400k.
Smart move. Uncertainty over free agency and possible work stoppage, not to mention a chance to make more money. If you ask me, MLS Players Union has really screwed the pooch on this fight about free agency. The really painted themselves into a corner (FA or strike) over an issue that affects the minority not majority of the league. No one is going to get into a bidding war over a guy making the league minimum. Only the top tier guys. Therein lies the problem.
yes and no. from what i gather (admittedly not following 100%) the players union is fighting for free agency for those player with a certain amount of time in the league to be able to have a say in their future, not EVERY player (rookies, minimum time in the league, etc)
Just reading between the lines of comments made recently by people involved appears not everyone is on the same page. With the season fast approaching and the owners not budging in negotiations, I fear the players union will cave.
I think there’s more of a fracture than we know in terms of how on board the entire union/players is for free agency as opposed to simply raising wages.
You don’t understand unions, especially those made up of professional athletes. Instead of greed and self interest, the top tier players want every other MLS player to have better compensation. I’d say free agency too but I don’t know if that really exists din MLS.
A lockout by the owners now would be a fool’s errand. You have NYFC and Orlando joining and the league hoping to expand. If the owners want turn the clock back 15 yrs. then please proceed.
The players want to get paid. They think the best way to do that is get rid of single entity. So here we are.
You’re deluding yourself if you think the players care about the development of the league or sport in the US. None of them advocate a real free market which would also include no roster slot rules.
They’d be just fine with MLS zeroing out the player development budget if it meant another $1 on their current paychecks.
The owners are in this for the long haul. And that’s why they will prevail here. Most of the players OTOH are looking at filling out a Best Buy job application should their MLS gig stop. Everybody knows that so a deal will be made.
Wow! That’s cymical of you. Is it so hard to believe that one group is willing to sacrifice so others can have something more.
No owners, no league. Players are fungible.
Its only a step down if he’s making less money..
so when stars go play in china or middle east for wads of cash it’s not a step down?
I meant a step down in terms of quality of play. I don’t know his MLS salary offhand and don’t feel like looking it up but I’d imagine it’s similar to what he’s earning in Norway. I don’t think Norwegian clubs pay big bucks.
He was making $160 in MLS. If he’s making more in Norway, I don’t think it would be much more. Still, if you can make around the same amount, it might just be fun to try living and playing in a different country.
…and he gets to meet Norwegian girls:). Can’t be that bad for 1.5 years at 26yr old :). Doesn’t match Italy, though, but it’s beautiful and a big university there (I just did a search).
I once had a girl or should I say she once had me
only a step down if players don’t strike and MLS has a season. if they do, he’s in great shape….
Certainly a step down from MLS and definitely a big step down from the potential move to Serie A but best of luck to him. I hope he has a good experience in Norway and plays great.
Completely Agree! MLS should not be loosing players to Scandinavia. My only thought is that (1) MLS teams might refrain from signing contracts now with the impending strike or (2) New England doesn’t have the resources to resign him or (3) he could not get as short a contract as he wanted (18 months/1.5 seasons) which facilitates a free transfer in about 1 year. He’s only about 26.
Venice, the Alps, the Adriatic, all so close, and now so very, very far away. Sorry, A.J.
On one hand, it appears to be a step down. On the other, he has more professional freedom.
He has free agency….
All about the Benjamins…
Eh, he’s playing in a league comparable in quality to MLS, plus he could have Champion’s League or Europa league exposure pretty easily. Stavanger is also a pretty cool city…got the chance to visit with work a few years back.
Plus he’ll have more exposure to European teams and might even catch Klinsmann’s attention since he’s technically ‘in Europe’ now.
Way to twist what Klinsman says
Yes, because Klinsmann calls in far fewer MLS players than his predecesors did.
Yes, that’s sarcasm.
I think the comparison is kind of unbalanced because during Arena’s tenure MLS was just getting off its feet so calling in European based players made much more sense and during Bradley’s tenure players like Michael Bradley, Demarcus Beasley, Ricardo Clark, Jay Demerit, Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Clarence Goodson, Benny Feihaber, and Marcus Hahnemann were all playing overseas at the time of the 2010 World Cup, while they are all either retired or in MLS now.
Sure. But still, I can’t imagine Klinsmann’s predecessors giving Kyle Beckerman the real chance he deserved. Also, deciding to throw the top young MLS centerbacks into the fire to replace aging proven European Veterans like Bocanegra and Gooch. Not to mention other players Zusi/Evans/Wondo ect.