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.


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.

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.



Six reasons why you should watch US soccer

With just a month to go until the new season begins across the Atlantic, now is the perfect time to surround yourself in all things soccer.

The United States is home to a plethora of English talent and with the MLS completing its annual Superdraft only last month, more prospects have been added to the league’s rosters.

Here’s my top six reasons why you should keep an eye on American football this year.

1. A host of English stars are making the move to America
This summer will see two of England’s most decorated internationals make the move to Major League Soccer. Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has agreed a move to current champions LA Galaxy, whilst goal-scoring midfielder Frank Lampard will join expansion side New York City, once his projected move is complete in the summer.

This means two stalwarts of the English game will no longer be starring in the Premier League. However, despite both players now entering their twilight years, they still have plenty to give and their experience and reputation will not only benefit their respective sides, but the nation’s football as a whole.

2.  The MLS is easily accessible via British media
The United States’ premier football league is broadcast across the world. When ambitious sports channel BT Sport was launched in August 2013, they announced exclusive coverage of the MLS, a deal which would see them broadcast up to 99 live matches a season, including extensive coverage of the end of season MLS Cup playoffs.

So long as you have access to a platform which broadcasts BT Sport, catching up with your favourite Englishmen across the Atlantic has never been easier.

EDIT (06/03/15): Sky Sports now have the UK TV rights to the MLS.

3. Three tiers of professional football
In England we are accustomed to having four tiers of fully professional clubs, with additional full-time sides in the Conference. Abroad though, most countries have just two professional leagues, with lower divisions split into regional amateur divisions.

The US, however, has three professional divisions, keeping standards high across the country. After the MLS, the country also has the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the United States League Professional Division (USL Pro).

With no promotion or relegation active in America, these three divisions are run on a separate basis but that does not mean sides cannot move between the divisions. Orlando City will be competing in the MLS for the first team this year after they were awarded MLS franchise spot. The club had previously been playing in the USL Pro division.

All three leagues are well covered, with American’s fondness for statistical data analysis coming into its own, and there are Englishmen plying their trade in each tier, so it should be easy to find a club to support.

4. The playoffs
American sport is renowned for its post-season showdowns and football is no different. Twelve teams will enter this year’s MLS playoffs, six from each conference, meaning every team has something to play for right until the end of the regular season. This means there are no pointless end of season mid-table battles.

The NASL and USL Pro leagues both have their own playoff systems, with the former elaborately naming their grand final the Soccer Bowl. Who wouldn’t want to watch the Soccer Bowl?!

5. Fanatical support

With the growing popularity of football in the States, fans are becoming increasingly passionate. For just a glimpse of these fanatical fans, look no further than MLS side Portland Timbers.

English defender Liam Ridgewell stars for the Timbers, whose fans regular pack out the 20,000 capacity Providence Park, displaying giant tifos, setting off flares and even chainsawing tree trunks every time they score.

6. Gives you an excuse to stay up all night and something to watch in the summer
If you live in the UK or most of Europe, then the majority of the matches played in the US are in the evening or throughout the night. Although at first this may seem an inconvenience, it gives any football fan the perfect excuse to stay up all night and have sole control of their telly. No more depressing evenings once Super Sunday has finished, extend your weekend with a double helping of MLS action on BT Sport.

The US football season also runs throughout the year, especially important this year with no major football tournament to keep us entertained. Gone are the summers where a football fan longs for the return of Premier League football, let soccer fulfill your footballing needs.