The unattached XI
The season is over in most of Europe, and a host of Canadian and American players are among those that have been released in the past few weeks. Along with a few MLS veterans who are still without a club in 2013, there are enough quality free agents to form an XI of players that should be on the radar of Canada’s pro teams during the business end of the season.
Most of these players will be trying to find another club in Europe, but opportunities in Canada have grown exponentially in recent years and will expand even more when Ottawa Fury joins the NASL next season. Here’s a hypothetical starting line-up of North American players on the lookout for a new team:
GK: Haidar Al-Shaïbani (Canada/Nîmes Olympique)
This former London City goalkeeper was just released from his club in France. The one-time Canadian international could be a useful second goalkeeper in Toronto if Stefan Frei is traded.
RB: Frankie Simek (USA/Carlisle United)
The former Arsenal prospect trialled with D.C. United last month but looks likely to end up back in the English lower leagues. Simek, a St. Louis native, would be perfect for a pro team there, but in the meantime most MLS defences would benefit from his experience.
CB: Adam Straith (Canada/Saarbrücken)
Straith is from Victoria and spent time with the Whitecaps Residency earlier in his career. At this point in the season, Vancouver could use another Canadian to provide cover for Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien’s tired legs.
CB: Adrian Cann (Canada/Toronto FC)
This local lad was Toronto FC captain at one point but injuries blighted his last year in Toronto. We haven’t heard much from him since saying he was ready to find a new club at the end of last season, but he was a second division stalwart with Vancouver for years and could be the cover they need for O’Brien’s recent injury.
LB: Eric Lichaj (USA/Aston Villa)
Lichaj has a Polish passport and should catch on with another European club, but he could fill a role for an MLS side like Chicago Fire. Lichaj has ties to Illinois and played a few games with Chicago’s PDL affiliate during college.
RM: Jaime Peters (Canada/Ipswich Town)
Peters left Ipswich at the beginning of the season and still hasn’t found a club despite trialling in Vancouver and Toronto ahead of the MLS campaign. The Pickering native can play anywhere on the right-hand side and could be an asset for Ottawa Fury next season.
CM: Mozzi Gyorio (Canada/Fleetwood Town)
This PEI native just came off a half-season with Fleetwood Town in the English League Two (the rather unintuitively named fourth tier). Gyorio played two seasons with Tampa Bay in the NASL before coming close to joining MLS in an extended trial at Sporting Kansas City ahead of the 2012 season.
CM: Julian de Guzman (Canada/SSV Jahn Regensburg)
Toronto fans remember de Guzman as the local DP who never really came good, but Patrice Bernier has shown that Canadian international midfielders can thrive in MLS with the right expectations. Julian could even convince brother Jonathan to join the league in a few years.
LM: Ryan Pore (USA/Portland)
Pore apparently retired after the 2011 season and is back attending the University of Tulsa and running summer soccer camps. He should be in his prime as a player at 29 and was an NASL icon at Portland after getting MLS experience with Kansas City.
ST: Simeon Jackson (Canada/Norwich)
Jackson was just released after spending a few seasons scoring goals in both the Championship and the Premier League with the Canaries. He’s a Mississauga native and would be right at home in Toronto.
ST: Randy Edwini-Bonsu (Canada/Eintracht Braunschweig)
Edwini-Bonsu is a speedy winger/forward who could be a star if he managed to improve his end product. He played youth football in Edmonton and the city’s NASL team could be a good place to refuel before having another shot at Europe.
GK: Steve Cronin and Will Hesmer are both retired, but they have extensive MLS experience and are still fairly young.
RB: André Hainault (Canada/Ross County) may yet stay with his Scottish club.
CM: Danny Szetela (USA/D.C. United)‘s last professional club was D.C. in 2010, but he’s still only 25 and is committed to finding a new club after his career stalled from knee injuries. He impressed at the U-20 World Cup in 2007 but is now showcasing his talents with amateur side Icon FC in the US Open Cup.
CM: David Testo (USA/Montreal Impact)
Before all the hype around Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers, Testo came out of the closet after being released by Montreal at the end of 2011. He’s still only 31, and incoming Ottawa Fury coach Marc dos Santos knows all about Testo’s midfield talent from his time with Montreal.
CM: Janeil Hoilett (Canada/Mainz 05)
CM: Jonathan Lao (Canada/Erfurt)
ST: Gavin McCallum (Canada/Woking)
ST: Ali Gerba (Canada/Montreal Impact)
Have I missed any North American players without a club who deserve a spot in this XI? Feel free to comment below.
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