Exclusive interview with Orlando City’s Luke Boden: Part 1

The biggest difference is that no matter what [level] you play in the US, everybody tries to play football.

Luke Boden (in purple) in action for Orlando.


In the first of two exclusive articles, English Players Abroad (EPA) interviews Orlando City’s Luke Boden. The former Sheffield Wednesday player joined Orlando in 2011, and now after four seasons in the USL Pro league, Boden is set to play in the MLS next year, with Orlando joining the league for the 2015 season.

Having begun his career at Sheffield Wednesday, Boden went on to make several first team appearances for the Owls between 2006 and 2011. His spell in his homeland also included loan moves to Chesterfield, Rushden & Diamonds and Northampton Town.

In 2011, he upped sticks and moved to Orlando City, who at the time, played in the USL Pro league one of the two professional football leagues below Major League Soccer (MLS).

During his time in England, he was predominately a midfielder but has more recently played at left-back in the US.

In four seasons with Orlando, he has won three USL Pro Commisssioner’s Cups (awarded to the team who finish top of the league) and two USL Pro championships (awarded to the winner of the end-of-season playoffs).

Next year will see Boden compete in the top tier for the first time. After being confirmed as an MLS franchise in November 2013, the side are now in full preparation for their first season with the big boys. The Englishman has already agreed a multi-year contract to continue to play at Orlando in the MLS.

EPA caught up with Luke to chat all things American as Orlando gears up for its inaugural season in the MLS. Thanks to Jhamie Chin at Orlando City for helping conduct the interview.

  1. After several years as a professional in England, how did the move to Orlando come about?

I was coming to an age where I wanted to be playing regular first team football. I was 21 at the time, and obviously when you get to 21, you want to be playing regularly. That was one of the main reasons for me wanting to come to Orlando.

  1. How does the football in the US compare to England?

Looking at the standard, [it is] near-on the exact same. Look at the standard of players who are over here in the US now. Obviously [there’s] Orlando signing Kaka plus [there’s] Henry [and] Cahill, so a lot of big names are playing over here now. The standard is really, really high. It’s great and it’s only going to get better.

  1. What has been the biggest difference you’ve noticed whilst playing football in the US as opposed to at home?

The biggest difference is that no matter what [level] you play in the US, everybody tries to play football. Everybody tries to play out from the back. Everybody tries to play through the midfield and create chances. Whereas in England, I think that a lot of teams like to play a lot of ‘back-to-front’. A lot of long ball. So the biggest difference is that most teams here try to play the ball on the floor which is good.


In part 2 of the interview, Luke talks Dom Dwyer, Adrian Heath and Kaka. It will be up on the site in the coming days.


English in action: 14th November

There has been a definite lack of Englishmen playing abroad in the past few days but one expatriate did make an impression yesterday.

Austria: Schwechat 4-2 St. Pölten II (Regionalliga Ost)

Gary Noel celebrates after scoring for St. Polten earlier this year

The only Englishman who featured overseas yesterday was 24-year-old Gary Noel. The striker started for St. Pölten II as they travelled to Schwechat for a Regionalliga Ost (Regional League East) match, one of Austria’s regional third tiers.

Noel is now enjoying his fourth season in Austria, after beginning his continental adventure in 2011 when he joined Regionalliga side Admira II from English Conference side Lewes.

After a year at Admira II, Noel joined Schwechat in the same division, where he fired 20 goals in 27 games to earn a move to St. Pölten, who play a division higher in the 1. Liga.

He managed seven goals last year at Pölten and also has one goal for them so far this year but yesterday he was playing for the club’s second team, back in the third tier.

The match saw Noel line up against his old club, Schwechat and he gave them a timely reminder of his talent when he equalised in the 19th minute to make it 1-1.

Unfortunately, Schwechat hit three second half goals to condemn St. Pölten II to a 4-2 loss. Noel, however, now has five goals in four games for St. Pölten’s second team this year.

Tomorrow’s update is set to feature several players with many leagues around the world carrying on through the international break. Updates to come from games in Spain, New Zealand and more!

English in action: 12th November

There were three games yesterday, in three different continents, which featured Englishmen.

New Zealand: Auckland City 3-0 Wanderers SC (ASB Premiership)

Irving (right) in action for Auckland last year in the Club World Cup.

Top played bottom in New Zealand as high-flying Auckland City hosted the struggling Wanderers SC in New Zealand’s top tier.

Auckland made it four wins from four in the league with a comfortable 3-0 win, which condemned Wanderers to a third straight defeat. They were helped to victory with the aid of two English expats, John Irving and Sam Burfoot.

Former Everton academy defender Irving and 20-year-old midfielder Burfoot both played the full ninety minutes as their side continues to dominate in New Zealand. The pair are both into their second seasons at Auckland and enjoyed league and continental success last season.

India: Kerala Blasters 0-0 Mumbai City (Indian Super League)

James in action yesterday
James in action yesterday

Another day, another match in the Indian Super League. This time it was Kerala Blasters’ turn as they hosted Peter Reid’s Mumbai City.

Kerala are managed by David James, who is also registered to play for the Blasters, and has missed just one game in the tournament so far. The 44-year-old rolled back the years to keep a clean sheet, no mean feat considering Mumbai’s star striker, Nicolas Anelka, was playing.

It was a second consecutive goalless draw for the Blasters and a third consecutive clean sheet, something the former England international can certainly be proud of. They remain 6th in the league table.

Slovakia: Zlaté Moravce 1-3 Trenčín (Slovak Cup)

Lawrence (right) in action earlier this year
Lawrence (right) in action earlier this year

In one of the more unusual career paths, English midfielder James Lawrence currently plays for Slovakian Super Liga side FK AS Trenčín, having joined them this summer after five years in Holland with Ajax, Sparta Rotterdam and RKC Waalwijk.

A fairly regular starter in his first season of senior football, Lawrence was in the starting line-up as 2nd place Trenčín travelled to 10th place Zlaté Moravce for a Slovak Cup last 16 match.

The 22-year-old played the entire match as his side eased to a 3-1 win over Zlaté to book their place in the quarter finals.

At the moment, it looks like tomorrow’s update will be fairly short, with it looking likely that no there are expatriates who have a match today.


English in action: 11th November

With the world’s professional football now moving towards the upcoming international break, there are less club matches than usual this week but there were a couple of Englishmen involved in matches across the globe yesterday.

Tom Matthews in action.

Australia: Bentleigh Greens 0-3 Perth Glory (FFA Cup semi-final)

The FFA Cup is in its inaugural season and includes the ten teams from the Australia’s top tier, the A-League, and 22 semi-professional and amateur qualifiers from each of the country’s eight state federations. Bentleigh Greens were the last team remaining in the tournament from outside the A-League.

The Englishman who was involved in the match was 27-year-old full back Tom Matthews. The defender played the full 120 minutes in the quarter-final win over Adelaide City last month and started this game as well. In front of the TV cameras, with the game aired live on BT Sport in the UK, he again played the full match but could not prevent his side losing 3-0 to their higher division opponents, Perth Glory. Matthews picked up a booking but can be proud that his team made it to the last four in the cup.

India: Pune City 1-1 Chennaiyin (Indian Super League)

There are several English players who are currently in India for the inaugural Indian Super League. Jermaine Pennant joined the league late, having only signed for Pune City last week. However, the former Stoke City winger did not get a chance to make his Super League debut as he watched his side draw 1-1 with Chennaiyin from the bench. Greek international Konstantinos Katsouranis scored Pune’s goal.

Tomorrow’s update will feature Kerala Blasters, Auckland City and FK AS Trencin, who all have Englishmen on their books.

2014/15 season update

As the 2014/15 is now in full-swing, it would seem an appropriate time for an update.

  • There are nearly 200 English footballers playing abroad professionally, or some occasions, semi-professional depending on the professional status of a country’s top football league. This figure does not include players playing in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  •  The United States has the most English ex-pats, followed by Iceland and New Zealand.
  • There are only two English players who feature in the one of the four major European leagues (Spain, Italy, Germany and France). They both play in Italy; Ashley Cole of Roma and Micah Richards of Fiorentina.
  • The majority of data of this site will be sourced from http://uk.soccerway.com/.

I will hopefully be updating this site on a more regular basis now. I hope to write:

  • Weekly updates highlighting the key performers
  • Player profiles on specific players
  • Interviews with players

Welcome to English players abroad!

We all now how many foreigners there are playing football in England, but what is it like the other way round?

Well this blog intends to find that out. There will be (hopefully) news, updates and interviews with the few English players playing their football away from their homeland.

Follow us on Twitter @EnglishAbroad1.