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Birmingham City part ways with U.S. U-23 defender Packwood, offer Spector new contract

WillPackwoodBirminghamCity1-NottsCounty2014 (Getty)


Will Packwood’s eight-year spell with Birmingham City has come to an end.

Following the end of the 2014/2015 season, Birmingham announced that they had parted ways with a number of players, including the 21-year-old American centerback Packwood. The decision ends an eight-year stay at the club, which began in the team’s youth divisions but finished with Packwood languishing on loan at League Two club Cheltenham Town.

Packwood, who currently is a member of the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team, was a promising prospect for Birmingham before suffering a horrific leg break in January 2013, an injury that kept him out for ten months. Since then, Packwood has spent time on loan at League Two’s Bristol Rovers, League One’s Colchester United, and Cheltenham Town, where he played five times this spring but couldn’t help the club avoid relegation from the football league.

While Packwood will be seeking new pastures, Birmingham City did reveal a new contract offer to American defender Jonathan Spector, a new two-year deal with an option year attached.

Spector has also struggled with injuries over the last couple of season, but he managed to make 20 starts in 24 Championship games, helping lead Birmingham to a 10th-place finish this season.

Packwood released a statement on his Twitter account, stating his thanks to the club that took him in as a teenager. He finishes his Birmingham career with 18 games played.

“I would like to thank everyone involved with BCFC including the lads, the backroom staff, and the fans for making my eight seasons here special,” Packwood wrote. “I’ve enjoyed all my time here but am looking forward to a new environment and a new challenge. I wish the club all the best for the future.”


What do you think of this news? Where would you like to see Packwood go next? Do you see Spector re-signing with Birmingham?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I am reading some of the comments on here, and without being rude, there is clearly some people who have never watched Championship football. The MLS has years to go before it matches the standard of the Championship, let alone the EPL.

    And to say that the Championship has ‘no fast players’ is laughable. The season that has just ended was one of the best Championship season’s of all time for quality of Football.

    • Actually Rob I’ve watched a lot of English Championship matches and think that the standard is relatively low from the middle of the table downwards. As good as Bournemouth is, Blackpool is horrible and would struggle to win a match in MLS.

      The one area of clear superiority which the Championship clubs have is in tactics. They are clearly better organized and harder to breakdown. The reason for this is simple, and that’s relegation. Poor teams, of which there are many, know that if they simply don’t lose too many matches, they can stay up.

      Players in MLS are generally of a higher standard athletically and to an increasing degree, technically than when compared to mid level Championship players and below. Since MLS sides don’t have to worry about relegation, they’ll take more chances and this is precisely what the league wants. Tactically I fully agree that the league is naive’ and find this to be frustrating.

      Probably the best arbiter between the two leagues is how players perform when moving between the two leagues. Tim Ream was very good with NY Red Bull and has been ever-present for Bolton. He is in fact probably their most consistent player. In MLS he was found wanting for speed at times. In the Championship this hasn’t been an issue. Jordan Stewart was on his way out of the Championship when he signed with San Jose (dreadful club) and after looking good for a season, is probably on his way out there too. Liam Ridgewell was a solid Championship defender on mediocre teams and the same is true in MLS. Andy Dorman has returned to NE and done better than he did at Palace, so I’ll give you that one, but CP were at the upper end of the Championship. On the other hand, Luke Moore can’t find the goal since coming to MLS after being a very productive player in the Championship.

      The difference between MLS and the English Championship is only at the top of the latter. After that the differences are stylistic.

      • You make some good points. But then you said that Luke Moore was a very productive player. he was absolutely awful – still is by the sounds of it.

        And using Blackpool as an example is a bit extreme. How about Brighton? A very good footballing side who have struggled this season. Blackpool would struggle in any league as they are run by a crook and have an awful manager.

        The Championship used to be about keeping it tight, not anymore, though.

      • Rob,

        OK, referencing Blackpool was a bit harsh, especially since I have admit that I didn’t see any of their matches. I did watch Wigan a couple of times and they were dreadful in every regard. I saw Millwall once and they were laughably poor and I turned it off at halftime.

        It’s funny that you mention Brighton because I watched more of their matches then anyone else’s because I liked what Hyypia’s did early on at Leverkusen and felt that he’s been “hard done” there. I felt that at Brighton he was trying to get the team to play in a manner that was not suited to their level of ability. Once he left I didn’t watch anymore of heir matches.

        I watched Bolton 5-6 times and the difference between Lennon and Freedman as managers was clear immediately.

        I think that the best teams in the Championship still “keep it tight.” Bournemouth does in their own way. I think that they actually play a bit like Atletico without the extreme aggression. They won me over, yes after watching them play Brighton.

        Moore did score goals in the Championship and even played a bit in the Premiership. I actually think that he has ability but doesn’t really want to play the game anymore. That he couldn’t start for the now defunct Chivas speaks volumes.

        Oh and I did watch Birmingham once in the early part of the season. I’m glad that they improved enough to stay up.

  2. So Ives, MLS has an article saying that BCFC has sweetened the deal for Specs because of MLS interest. Any idea on which clubs would want him?

  3. Let me be frank as I reply to your comment. Firstly, Spector has only been in the Birmingham first team due to injuries. If Rowett had a fully fit squad to pick from, Spector would find himself kicking his heels on the bench.

    Secondly, you say you admire the way he recovers from injury, but to me, the bigger concern is: why does he always pick up these injuries?

    And as for Lee Clark’s comment, Spector may have been the most consistent player, but the squad back then was under performing and Clark was the most berated manager of Birmingham City’s 140 year history.

    Having said that, I do like Spector, but he is very limited as a footballer. Credit must go to him for creating a well paid career with such limited ability.

    • I agree with your comments back to Bizzy. I would say , however, that Spector had great ability but with the long history of serious injuries he is much more limited now than when he started which is why I really like him at CB. It is a position that has less stress on the body parts that he has had trouble with. That being said, the managers at West Ham and BCFC have really seemed to like him. Not only is he versatile but he is very hard working, dependable, dedicated and obviously works very hard to come back from the long periods of injury. That says a lot about a person’s work ethic as it isn’t easy to be in the training room alone for months every season.

    • I think both me and Gary Rowett will beg to differ……including all of BCFC
      By Gary Rowett himself ……“People have told me he’s this, people have told me he’s that, people have told me his best position is holding midfielder, some people told me something about a position at full back”
      ….My point exactly that he is good enough to play in the Midfield and defense of the USMNT…and that’s not even talking about his versatility

  4. The most underrated player in our player pool- JONATHAN SPECTOR
    Still only 29 years
    He is the only player versatile enough to play midfielder (EPL Level) and Defender (EPL/championship Level), hence during the “experimenting phase” he would have been a perfect candidate for trials at CAM or DM. He has had issues with the USMNT because they played him at LB, out of his natural position (RB or Midfield), and only because at the time he was the only one versatile enough that we had.
    Only player good enough to bounce back from every injury to RECLAIM his starting spot and continue to play 90 mins
    “And he has got a good mentor in (compatriot) Jonathan Spector, who I have gone on record saying has been our most consistent player.”……Lee Clark
    Scored twice against Manchester united (MANCHESTER UNITED) in the Carling Cup while station in the midfield…..twice (something Altidore would admire). Can you imagine if Bradley could do that…..or Morales…or Beckerman??

    Good for him to sign a contract….when you got it you got it

    • So we’re going to drop Bradley and start Spector based on a league cup game from five years ago against a Man U B team?

      • No…oh no. For Jonathan Spector maybe it’s based on consistency and making an impact with a championship team, Birmingham City, and going full 90 in more than one position on the team……or Maybe because Bradley isn’t even making a ripple in his current position or maybe because he hasn’t even made the highlight reel (plays for the day) so far even with all the quality around him in Toronto

    • Each time Specs could have been called up over the past few years (e.g. games in Europe), he has been injured – a real issue that can’t be overlooked. I think he is great – super versatile but to say he could be a holding midfielder for the US is overly optimistic. He hasn’t been able to keep that position with BCFC falling to 3rd or 4th on the depth chart. I do think that he has shown great promise at Center Back. This finally might be the spot for him and he certainly could challenge for that position on the USMNT if he can stay healthy.

      • “He hasn’t been able to keep that position with BCFC falling to 3rd or 4th on the depth chart”…..He has never competed for a spot in the midfield and was brought into BCFC to fill the RB roll. He has his spot on defense and has never tried establishing superiority for a midfield role. He does however play CM when needed.
        If we are talking about the USMNT midfield with Bradley, Diskerud, Beckerman, Morales….he has the talent and form to compete with EVERY single one of them at CAM, DM or CM

      • Yes he was brought in at right back but started to make the transition to holding midfielder under Houghton and the last two seasons for Clark spent most of his time in that position unless the right back was injured. He has not played there under the current manager.

      • He didn’t start to make a move to holding midfielder…he was put where he was needed…..and good enough to be considered for the position

    • I like Spector because he’s pretty steady and will give you a good effort every time out. I saw that game where he scored twice and it was really an aberration. I remember a West Ham game a couple of years before that where Spector took a speculative shot from outside the box that missed the goal by about 20 yards. The announcer said something like he wasn’t much of a threat and the color guy said he had played with Spector while both were at Charlton and he didn’t think Spector ever came close to scoring even on the training ground.. So, let’s not get too excited by his 2 goals against Man U. A better example of his value is how well he played in the Confederations Cup in 2009. Despite that, though he was selected for the 2010 World Cup team, he didn’t appear in any of the games (in retrospect, maybe he should have played defensive mid instead of Ricardo Clark). A couple of years ago maybe Spector could have fit into the pool, but I’m afraid the US has moved on and has better options now–specifically Geoff Cameron who can play all the positions that Spector does and probably play them better.

      • Not to mention that Spector is too slow go play d-Mid at the international level. He was burnt consistently at the out back position. He has some talent He came up through the Man United youth system (well from 16) and was captain of the youth team. However the lower levels are full of Man Utd, Arsenal etc youth team players

      • +1

        You nailed it Anthony. Spector was never very fast and with all of his injuries, he’s now “time him with an hourglass slow.” He can survive, maybe not prosper, but survive on a low level Championship side like Birmingham because there aren’t that many fast players at that level. I think that he would struggle against a lot of the strikers and wingers in MLS.

  5. The Revs have a good record for American players playing abroad who suffer bad injuries and need to reset their careers… plus we could use a young defender as depth, as well.

  6. I’m glad that Specs was offered a new contract. The consensus of many was that because he was the highest paid player; was out 4-5 months each year with injuries and new players had been brought in dropping him to 2nd on the depth chart for several positions that he would be let go. His recent form at Center Back has been impressive and I believe the reason (along with his versatility) that he was asked back. My guess, though, is that the contract offer may be less than he is currently making.

    It was obvious from the beginning of the season that Packwood would be let go. He just was never in the plans (or in the 18). Hopefully he will find a place. He struggles in the Championship so hopefully a good League One club would be good. He had some shockers this year on loan.

  7. Packwood is a very promising player – although I think his talents are lost as a defender. I think whatever team picks him up, they need to play him in a holding midfield role.

    Hopefully see him in the MLS in no time.

    Go Sounders!

  8. He did pretty well for them before his legbreak, didn’t he? Seems like a decent pickup for somebody.

    • He did ok, started to establish himself in the team as a CB or RB. But back then, we were a very poor side. I like Packwood, but in my opinion he isn’t Championship quality. He got his place in the team after many injuries and with the manager seemingly desperate for ideas as we shot down the league table.

      He would be a decent signing for someone of League One level or below or maybe MLS or Scottish Leagues.

      • Thanks for the analysis from a Birmingham fan. Good stuff and at least I feel better about this, because I thought his non-signing was just because of the broken leg. But while we have you here… :-)…curious for your thoughts as to Spector as a CB. The reports i’ve read is that he’s been playing well there. He’s been tried at RB and holding mid, is Spector’s future (well, present) at CB??

      • Spector is a funny player. He will have 3 or 4 brilliant games, then an absolute shocker. On Saturday at Bolton, he was the best player on the pitch and he was at CB.

        Although I do feel Rowett has offered him a deal due to his versatility, I assume that CB is the role he has in mind – especially with Packwood and Gunning leaving.

        Spector is a steady defensive CM player if not spectacular. But his game time in that position will be limited with Gleeson and Davis and the on loan Tesche there (hopefully we sign him).

        At RB, again he is steady, but positionally he can be questioned at times. I praised his performance vs Bolton in my match report here:

      • Again, much thanks! Not sure if Specs can ever shake up the CB depth for the USMNT, but I’ll at least keep my eye on him, as he at least has the passing/dribbling skills better than an average CB.

      • I first noticed Spector when he was an 18 year old playing for Charlton in the EPL and it wasn’t until a year or two later that I learned he was American, so I started paying more attention after that and saw him quite a few times (I’m guessing in the 30 to 40 games range). I have only seen him play at Birmingham a couple of times, so my evaluation is based on his time in the EPL and with the US national teams.While with Charlton he was not flashy, but fairly steady. He was a pretty consistent starter at West Ham, but I never thought his defending was the best. My memory is that he often had trouble with speedy and skillful players coming down the flank, so he might be better suited at CB. He played in midfield for them a bit and I think it was an FA Cup he scored twice as a midfielder against Man U, his first EPL team (which I think was a shock to everyone, including himself). He played for the US in the Confederations Cup in 2009 and did quite well at RB. In fact, he had two assists on good crosses.While he made the 2010 WC squad, he never played and that about sums up his career–pretty good generally, at times very good, but mostly a middling player who doesn’t stand out. Still, he has probably made a pretty good living at playing soccer for the last dozen or so years.

      • Rob,

        While you have you here, do you think that Packwood is League 1 quality with the chance to improve in the future if he gets consistent playing time and completely heals form his injury (he is only 21) or is his limit is below the Championship? I only ask because you clearly watch a lot more Birmingham games than I do.

        By the way, I just perused your blog. Nice work.

      • Let me be frank, if Packwood can’t make it on a poor Championship level team, there’s no way that he would get a look from an MLS side unless it was at the minimum salary. The closest club to where he is from, New England, has a very promising defender in Andy Farrell who Packwood would have no shot at unseating. In fact he isn’t as good as Darius Barnes or even London Woodbury who the Revs are very high on.

        If Packwood returns to the US, it will most likely be in the NASL or USL.

        And before you ask, I’ve seen Packwood play and have never thought that he lived up to the hype. There are college defenders his age that are better.

  9. I am sad to see Packwood leave – a promising young player who was the victim of a leg break, he was never the same after that.

    Spector, despite not being the best footballer in the world, is versatile and can play in a number of positions which I why he has been offered a new deal, I assume.


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