Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chad Ochocinco Says He Could Make Sporting's Roster Now

Five years ago, shortly before the 2011 MLS season kicked off, the NFL locked out their players when the owners and the players association could not come to an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement. With the NFL players out of work during the stoppage, wide receiver, Chad Ochocinco had taken to Twitter with jokes about being unemployed. Sporting Kansas City's Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara reached out to Ochocinco on Twitter and jokingly talked about having him come trial with Sporting. Ochocinco, who is a big soccer fan, seemed excited about the idea and Kyle Rogers, who was working for Sporting KC at the time really helped to make the deal happen. The original three day trial began on March 23rd and was extended for two more days for KC to get a look at him in a reserve game against the Kansas City Brass, the local PDL team at the time. Ochocinco played about a session and a half of the three 30 minute session game that saw Sporting's reserves fall 3-2 to the PDL team.

At the time, reports were that Ochocinco had the speed to play, but his ability as a soccer player lacked and he was not offered a contract, instead he was made an honorary member of Sporting KC. After the trial and the lockout ended Ochocinco went on to play the 2011 season with the New England Patriots before finishing his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins, but never actually played in a game for them. The trial was a bit of a circus sideshow in the fact that most people didn't expect Ochocinco to be able to make Kansas City's roster, but it give the recently rebranded Sporting KC some major media attention in the whole thing because of Ochocinco's personality and the idea of him trying out for a soccer team.

Ochocinco though is now back in the news regarding Sporting KC though. The 38 year old Ochocinco was interviewed on ESPN FC, where he was asked about being a fan of Sporting KC even though he's from Miami and they are still supposed to be getting an expansion team. Ochocinco said that if tried out for Sporting KC now that he'd be able to make the team, because he's gotten his touch back. Ochocinco says that since he's retired he's been playing soccer with his friends in an indoor league in Miami as well as in Kendall, Florida.

Ochocinco may have been (may even still be to a point) an elite athlete, but playing recreational soccer, or even adult competitive soccer isn't going to get you up to the speed of play of MLS, especially at 38 years old. Also, unless his touch has increased by leaps and bounds playing in men's' leagues in Florida he's going to have a hard time catching on in MLS. Lots of people like to talk about some of the first touches in MLS, but Ochocinco's was very bad when he trialed with KC. He'd also need to make sure his left leg could actually be used for something other than standing on; from watching the old highlights I'm not sure he touched the ball with his left foot once. At his age, he would come in as the third oldest player to ever appear in a game for KC, behind Preki and Mo Johnston, and would be the oldest player to debut for Kansas City. It's great that he still considers himself a fan of the club five years later, but to think he could come in now and make the Sporting roster is a major stretch for me.

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