Friday, September 18, 2009
After a two-year search, Brown Universty product Laurent Manuel finally was given a permanent opportunity, signing with Tweede Klasse club KV Oostende out of the Belgium Second Division.
The New York City native, whose trial at Portsmouth FC is what led to the contract with Les Cotiers, signed a one-year deal with KVO.
"During the month of August I was training at Portsmouth and my agent told me that KVO was interested, that it would be a great place to start my career and, most important, play matches," Manuel told YA. "So I signed August 31 for KVO on a one year deal."
It's been a convoluted path toward Belgium, though, with pit stops at Hapoel Tel-Aviv, New York, DC United, the Long Island Rough Riders and Portsmouth.
After missing the winter transfer window deadline in 2008 to sign with Hapoel, Manuel was taken in the MLS Supplemental draft by New York in the fourth round.
But Manuel opted not to sign with the franchise and instead went back to Tel-Aviv.
"I didn't sign with the Red Bulls but went back to Hapoel Tel-Aviv thinking that the papers could be sorted," Manuel said. "[It] just didn't happen."
Shortly after the second trip to Tel-Aviv proved to be fruitless, the Ivy League alumni appeared in a few reserve matches for United before suiting up for Pompey in a short trial.
"I had a trial at Portsmouth last year then came back to the United States and this past summer was playing with the Long Island Rough Riders."
"I then headed back to Europe to train at Portsmouth during the month of August and then, on August 31st, I signed at KVO."
The versatile midfielder had a distinguished career at Brown, where he was an All-Ivy Honorable Mention pick and helped the Bears win two Ivy League championships.
"My senior season I helped lead Brown to an undefeated [record] in the Ivy League and its 19th Ivy League title and 23rd NCAA appearance to its best school record ever of 15-1-2," Manuel said.
Born and raised in New York City, Manuel holds a French passport, which made it easier to come to Europe.
Manuel and his Oostende teammates currently hold down the third spot in the Tweede Klasse and will travel to Tirlemont on Sunday afternoon to take on the league's 17th place side.