English in Action: March 2016

The main talking points from last month…

New beginnings
March saw several leagues across the globe begin their 2016 seasons. Two of those leagues were MLS and J1 League in America and Japan respectively.

Firstly, Jay Bothroyd has made a dream start in Japan’s top tier. After finishing as the J2 top scorer last season, the former Cardiff City man has made the step-up with newly-promoted Júbilo Iwata look easy. In his first three matches of the season, the 33-year has already notched four goals. His early season goal-scoring exploits have made him an early leader in the goalscoring charts.

Over in the US, no fewer than eleven Englishmen have already featured in the first four weeks of MLS this year.

Dom Dwyer has been carrying on what he does best and was a stand-out performer against Vancouver Whitecaps were he bagged a brace to secure a 2-1 win for Sporting Kansas City.

Elsewhere there have been MLS debuts for DC United’s Rob Vincent and England legend Ashley Cole for LA Galaxy.

America’s third tier, the USL, also commenced this month with former Tottenham Hotspur forward Cameron Lancaster already on the score-sheet for Louisville City this year.

Hungarian adventure
Not many Englishmen have featured in Hungarian football. When Craig Short took over as manager of Hungary’s most prestigious club, Ferencváros, in 2009, he was joined by four compatriots. Sam Wedgbury, Paul Shaw, James Ashmore and Mathew Lowton all featured in Hungary during Short’s stint at the club.

However, since then there has not been an Englishmen to feature in the league (don’t quote me on that), until Nathan Eccleston made the move to Békéscsaba at the end of February.

Since then, the former Liverpool forward who is now 25, has scored one goal in five appearances as his new side battles relegation in Hungary’s top tier.

Romanian jackpot
The past two months have seen Romania become a serious attraction for English footballers as three have made the move to the eastern European country in recent months.

At the end of February, 25-year-old midfielder Ross Jenkins left Crawley Town to join ACS Poli Timişoara, the former club of fellow Englishman Wilson Kneeshaw. Former Watford midfielder Jenkins has made three appearances from the bench since his move east.

Elsewhere, winger Jeffrey Monakana who had a spell with League Two club Bristol Rovers at the start of this season, joined fellow Romanian top tier side Voluntari, although he is yet to make an appearance.

In the country’s second tier, Moses Makinde, who featured for Auerbach in Germany last season, has featured for Metalul Reşiţa. The 23-year-old has made four appearances so far.

Fresh start in Malaysia
After five seasons in the A-League for three different sides but only 27 appearances, defender Brent Griffiths swapped the Central Coast for Pulau Pinang in Malaysia.

The 26-year-old defender has struggled for game time in the past year but has since made three starts for his new side, lasting the entire match in all three.

After five games in the 2016 season, Pulau Pinang sit in mid-table, with one win and two draws.

Third country lucky
After spells in Spain and India failed to yield goal, Jermaine Pennant finally has a goal on foreign soil (he failed to score in European competitions too) for Singapore side Tampines Rovers.

Since the move to Singapore, Pennant has been a key player for Tampines, firing two goals in six games, which has led Tampines to second in the league after four games.

One of his strikes was a sumptuous free-kick, which can be seen in the video below.

April
April is another big month for new beginnings as football begins in Finland, Norway, Sweden and America’s second-tier, the NASL.