English Players Abroad on FIFA 17

The latest instalment of the FIFA franchise is well into full-swing now but with a new batch of players set to hit the consoles over Christmas, what better time to look at stats of the Englishmen abroad which feature on the latest edition.

full-teamThere are a total of 28 English players abroad on this year’s FIFA Ultimate Team. Five players, all from MLS, are not pictured here.

  • MLS: 15
  • Eredivisie: 3
  • Serie A: 2
  • Allsvenskan: 2
  • Belgian Pro League: 1
  • Austrian Bundesliga: 1
  • 2. Bundesliga: 1
  • Greek Super League: 1
  • J1 League: 1
  • A League: 1

Joe Hart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Hart’s move abroad would have came as a surprise before Pep Guardiola’s arrival and it means the England number one is the highest rated Englishman abroad on this year’s FIFA. Despite some high profile errors, the 29-year-old has started every game he has been available and has contributed to Torino’s good start to the season, losing just three of their first 13 games.

Osayamen OsaweOsayamen Osawe is the fastest player in this squad with a pace rating of 87. Having previously played in England for Accrington Stanley and Southport, the striker made the move to third tier German side Hallescher in 2014. Since then, he’s worked his way up to the second tier following a transfer to Kaiserslautern. The 23-year-old has made the step-up well and currently has seven goals in thirteen games since the move to the 2. Bundesliga club.

Hakeem ArabaSwedish club Falkenbergs’ striker Hakeem Araba is the squad’s strongest player with a strength stat of 94, making him one of the strongest players in the game. Weighing at over 100kg, it’s no wonder the former Bromley man is ranked so highly. After firing eight goals last year in his debut season in Sweden’s top tier, Araba has found this year much more harder going. His side finished rock-bottom in the Allsvenskan in 2016, amassing just two wins in year. Araba himself managed just one goal or season and his place on FIFA 18 is at risk now his side have suffered relegation.

Lewis BakerThe most improved player is Lewis Baker whose overall rating jumped from 68 on FIFA 16 to 74 on the current edition of the game. His first season of regular first team football as well as the five goals he scored, must have gone a long way to his impressive stats increase. The Chelsea loanee has become a integral part of the Vitesse team this season, scoring eight in fifteen games from midfield so far this year. Now in his second season with the Dutch side, Baker has also be amongst the goals for England U21s.

Jay BothroydJay Bothroyd has returned to FIFA after missing the three previous editions of the game. His latest appearance was on FIFA 13 where he appeared for QPR and Sheffield Wednesday. Bothroyd is enjoying the most prolific spell of his career in Japan with Júbilo Iwata. After firing twenty goals to guide his side to promotion last year, the former England international has 14 goals in 22 league games so far this season.

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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.

 

English in Action: Weekend 8-10 May

A busy weekend for Englishmen abroad saw some important contributions from the expatriates.

On Friday night in Austria, striker Gary Noel bagged a brace for his side First Vienna, as they defeated Donaufield 3-1 in the country’s third tier. It was the English forward’s sixth goal in eleven appearances since he made the move to Vienna in March.

On Saturday, newly-promoted PS Kemi Kings hosted their first game of the season against Haka. Starting up front was Billy Ions, now in his third season at the Finnish club. The former Newcastle United youth player scored his club’s third in a 3-2 win to secure back-to-back wins in the country’s second tier.

In Japan, ex-England international Jay Bothroyd failed to extend his scoring streak to four games but his side Júbilo Iwata still managed to defeat Mito HollyHock 2-1. The former Cardiff City striker has five goals in eight games since the move to Asia and his side currently sit top of J. League 2 after 13 games.

Over in America, there were impressive performances from a couple of Englishmen. First, midfielder Luke Mulholland fired home his second goal of the season to guide Real Salt Lake to a 2-1 away win over Chicago Fire. Then in Florida, Luke Boden provided the assist for Aurelien Collin’s 90th minute equaliser as Orlando City secured a late point at home to New England Revolution. Former Middlesbrough defender Seb Hines also played the full ninety for Orlando.

Sunday was a prolific day for England’s ex-pats, with no fewer than eight exiles on the score-sheets for their respective clubs.

In Belgium, John Bostock scored OH Leuven’s only goal of the game as they drew 1-1 with AS Eupen in the Second Division playoffs. After finishing fifth in the league, Bostock’s side are in a four-way battle to play Belgian Pro League football next season, with three teams from the Second Division competing with one from the top tier.

Former Walsall defender Netan Sansara opened the scoring as his side Fredrikstad secured a much-needed 3-1 win over Ranheim. Fredrikstad, now in their third season in Norway’s second tier, had started the season poorly, failing to win any of their first six games of the season but a goal from club captain Sansara helped secure maximum points for the first time on Sunday.

In Sweden’s top tier, Hakeem Araba continued his fine form, making it four goals in four games as he scored the only goal of the game to secure victory for Falkenberg over Halmstad. The English striker has now scored in four games in a row, having previously failed to find the net in his first four games of the season. The video below shows highlights of the match.

In the country’s second tier, Östersunds FK managed by former West Brom defender Graham Potter, secured a 2-1 away win over AFC United helped by a goal from Jamie Hopcutt. James Sinclair was an unused sub for Potter’s side.

In the MLS, it was the usual suspects making the headlines. Dom Dwyer‘s third goal of the season picked up a point for Sporting Kansas City who drew 1-1 away to DC United. Elsewhere, a brace from Bradley Wright-Phillips was enough to secure victory for Red Bulls over City in the first ever New York derby. Lloyd Sam was also involved, assisting Wright-Phillips’ first of the night.

Finally, in the NASL, the country’s second tier, goals from Tomi Ameobi and Ritchie Jones were not enough to prevent a 4-2 loss for FC Edmonton away to New York Cosmos, who had Spanish legend Raul on the score-sheet. The English pair now both have three goals each this season.

English in Action: Weekend 21-22 March

As he so often is, Bradley Wright-Phillips was the stand-out performer in a busy weekend for Englishmen abroad. The forward has carried his form over from last season as he bagged a goal and an assist to guide the New York Red Bulls to a 2-0 victory over DC United on Sunday. The 30-year-old showed a ice-cold composure to control and long ball and slot home before setting up his compatriot Lloyd Sam to wrap up the victory for the Red Bulls.

The New York duo were among eight Englishmen who featured in the MLS the past weekend. Featuring for the other team in the Big Apple, Manchester City loanee Shay Facey did not have the full debut he was dreaming of. The young defender picked up two yellow cards during the second half of New York City’s goalless draw with Colorado Rapids to earn career-first red card.

Elsewhere in the US, Sporting KC’s Dom Dwyer and Portland Timbers’ Liam Ridgewell faced each other as their sides battled to a 0-0 draw, which was the same scoreline over in the match in New England where Nigel Reo-Coker featured for Montreal Impact. Seb Hines‘s Orlando City suffered their first MLS loss as they went down 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps and Giles Barnes and co. at Houston Dynamo secured an impressive draw away to last year’s champions LA Galaxy.

There were two other English players on the score-sheet across the globe. Adam Burnaby-Atkins‘ second goal of the season was enough to secure a 2-2 draw for Dender in the Belgian Third Division. The 19-year-old midfielder is in his first season in Belgium, having previously featured for DC United’s academy in America.

The other goalscorer was Saul Hapin of Hawke’s Bay United in New Zealand but his first half penalty was not enough to prevent a 2-1 loss at home to Team Wellington. English ‘keeper Josh Hill also featured for Hawke’s Bay.

Another appearance of note was Khurram Shazad, who debuted for Austrian third-tier side WSG Wattens. The young forward entered the game as 55th minute substitute and saw his side won 1-0 over bottom club Bizau. Shazad is a former US college student, having attended Young Harris College in Georgia.

In Slovakia, Trenčín went top of the Super Liga table after a 3-0 win over DAC. 22-year-old midfielder James Lawrence played the entire match, his 15th appearance of the season.

In the Singapore S. League, Craig Fagan is still looking for his first goal for Brunei-based side DPMM FC, as he made it three starts without registering a strike. However, Steve Kean’s DPMM did still manage a 2-2 draw with Home United.

Finally, Medy Elito played the last 16 minutes as VVV Venlo secured a late draw away to Fortuna Sittard. The result means Venlo remain just one point outside the play-off spots in Holland’s second tier.

2015 Season Preview (March Edition)

Although March usually sees English football edge closer to its nail-biting finale, for many leagues it signals fresh optimism as the local domestic scene kicks off.

Across Scandinavia, footballing hibernation is over as the spring beacons those who have been locked up all winter to brace the outdoors and play ball once again. Several competitions across Asia and the Americas also see the turn of the month as the ideal time to kick off their 2015 campaigns.

Here’s my preview for the countries which begin their campaigns in March. An April edition will follow.

Singapore: S. League
Opening match: 1st March
Singapore’s top domestic league, the S. League, kicks off the 2015 football-fest with its opening round taking place at the weekend. Both English players feature this Sunday, with former Hull City forward Craig Fagan set to make his debut for Steve Kean’s DPMM side.

The S. League has slimmed to ten teams for this year, with each side playing each other three times. Although the competition is the domestic league of Singapore, three sides from outside the country compete. Japanese side Albrix Niigata have a sister side which compete in the league, as well as Brunei-based DPMM and Malaysian side Harimau Muda B.

Warriors FC lifted the title last season, their first victory since 2009, and they boast the most English talent. As well as being managed by Stoke-born coach Alex Weaver, they also include compatriot midfielder Tom Beattie who is set to feature in his third consecutive season in Singapore. Weaver impressed many in his first full season in charge of the Warriors, becoming the first non-Asian manager to win the S. League title and only the second ever foreigner. Beattie also dazzled under Weaver’s leadership, having been re-united with his former coach after a spell together at Hougang United. The pair will be looking to hold on to their title this season when the campaign kicks off this weekend.

Elsewhere, the only other English player set to feature in Singapore this year also begins his campaign this Sunday. Former Derby County forward Craig Fagan joined Brunei-based side DPMM earlier this month, linking up with ex-Blackburn Rovers boss Steve Kean. DPMM will be looking to recover from a disappointing campaign last season, in which they finished 8th, and will be hoping that Fagan can provide the spark needed to guide them towards the top of the table.

USA: Major League Soccer and United States League
Openings match: MLS – 7th March, USL – 22 March
March marks the start of two of the US’s leagues as the country’s first and third tiers begin within the next four weeks.

Major League Soccer, the country’s premier competition, begins on March 7th and will include expansion sides New York City FC and Orlando City for the first time.

It’s fair to say they are not the only two notable additions to the MLS this year. Both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will make the move across the Atlantic to join LA Galaxy and New York City respectively following the conclusion of the Premier League season. Although that means the pair will both miss the opening months of the season, it has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of their arrival to the country.

The highly decorated pair will join ten Englishmen already plying their trade in the rapidly expanding league. They include ex-Villa players Luke Moore and Nigel Reo-Coker, midfielders Giles Barnes and Lloyd Sam and last season’s top scorers, Dom Dwyer and Bradley Wright-Phillips. English boss Adrian Heath also continues to take charge of Orlando City as they compete in the MLS for the first time.

The league kicks off its 20th season next week with two ten-team conferences and culminates in the end-of-season playoffs, which will include twelve teams this year.

Just bumped into myself in Hollywood, standing next to TH too 👏 #LuckyBoy

A post shared by Dom Dwyer (@ddwyer14) on

Dom Dwyer with Dom Dwyer…

The newly rebranded United States League also begins next month, with its first match taking place on March 22nd.

The league has had a major overhaul during the off-season with the competition increasing from fourteen teams to twenty due tot he fact that every MLS franchise now has a reserve side, or an affiliate side, competing in the competition.

The increased number of teams means the division will now split into eastern and western conferences, adopting the structure of the MLS.

Two English managers will feature in the league, with Leigh Cowlishaw and former Everton player David Irving taking the reigns at Richmond Kickers and Tulsa Roughnecks respectively.

There are also several Englishmen on the rosters of the USL sides. One of those is former Manchester United youth defender Mark Howard who, after five seasons in Denmark, joined Oklahoma City Energy last season.

In addition, with many second sides in the division, players can easily drop down from the MLS. This will both increase the quality of the division and also give chances to Englishmen who may not be featuring regular in the top tier.

Read my piece on why you should watch US soccer here.

April
Several other divisions, especially those across Scandinavia, begin their league campaigns in April. There will be a separate post for those leagues. However, in Finland and Sweden, competitive football has already begun with cup competitions starting as early as last week in Finland and yesterday in Sweden.

 

 

2014 Review: #3 Dom Dwyer

2014 REVIEW - Dwyer

 

2014 has been a real breakthrough year for Dom Dwyer, who went from fringe player to Sporting Kansas City’s MVP and the MLS’ second top scorer.

Having been born in West Sussex, Dwyer began his career at Norwich City’s academy before moving to joining a scheme which saw him feature for Conference side King’s Lynn.

His early career was full of setbacks. During his time at college, he suffered three breaks to his right foot.

However, the injuries could not prevent the forward from being drafted by Sporting Kansas City in the 2012 MLS Superdraft, having  come through the American college system. He was offered the chance to do so by former Chelsea player Joe McLaughlin, whose company “specialises in scouting top young footballers to play soccer in America”.

The English striker managed just two appearances in his debut season before being loaned out for the 2013 season to third tier side Orlando City. Here, he fired 22 goals in just 15 games, enough to earn him a recall in time to help Sporting KC to the MLS title.

Despite a goal in the Eastern Conference final, 24-year-old Dwyer was far from a guaranteed starter, but last season, he became exactly that.

23 goals in 34 MLS appearances last season saw him earn cult status in the US, becoming a firm fans’ favourite with the Kansas City crowd. This is not just down to his countless goals, it is only due to his eccentric goal celebration exploits, whether it be a backflip or taking a ‘selfie’ on the pitch after scoring yet another goal.

His exploits also saw him called up to the MLS All Star team, where he featured in the 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the annual star-studded exhibition match.

Last year culminated in the playoffs for Sporting KC, who were looking to defend their MLS Cup. In the first round, KC travelled to New York Red Bulls in a match which saw the MLS’ two top scorers go head to head – Dwyer and his compatriot Bradley Wright-Phillips.

The match would end in disappointment for the former Norwich youngster as, despite giving his side the lead, Wright-Phillips fired two late goals to knock KC out at the first hurdle.

Despite failing to retain their title, Dwyer could be more than proud of what he achieved last year.

At 24, he still has the best years of his career ahead of him and a move back to England or elsewhere in Europe is still a possibility in the future. The experience in the MLS, will have only benefited his talent, proving a move abroad can be a superb platform for aspiring English players.

The 2014 season has been the stuff of dreams for Dwyer. He finished as the league’s second top scorer and achieved national recognition with a call-up the the MLS All Star team.

This year will see him come back stronger, as he attempts to guide his side to his second MLS Cup title.