BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, March 17, 2010
After having moved to Danish Superliga club Aalborg BK in January, American Chris Rolfe will hope to lead his new team into the top half of the table as they start the second half of the season this month.
Last September, Rolfe signed a deal with Aalborg (also known as AaB) which went into effect January 1, 2010. By signing that contract, it concluded Rolfe's five year MLS career with the Chicago Fire in which he scored 36 goals in 126 league appearances.
Now with Aalborg, Rolfe feels as if things are progressing well so far in Denmark.
"I've been with AaB for about ten weeks now, and things are continuing to go well," Rolfe told YA. "On the field, the coaches and my teammates have been intense and demanding. We have a good group of players here, both on and off the field. Communication within the team and between myself and the coaches has been very good."
This past week Rolfe made his first appearance for Aalborg in the team's second game since the end of the Superliga's three month long winter break. He came off the bench in the 70th minute as Aalborg fell 2-0 to FC Midtjylland.
"Of course, it was nice to get into the match on Sunday, but the result wasn't quite what we were looking for," the Kettering, Ohio native said of his debut. "The fans from AaB that traveled to the game were very supportive of me and that was appreciated."
Prior to moving to Denmark, Rolfe has spent his entire playing career in the United States. After playing four seasons for the University of Dayton, Rolfe was drafted in the third round of the 2005 MLS Superdraft by the Chicago fire where he played until the conclusion of the 2009 season. Now in Denmark, Rolfe is adjusting to soccer in Europe,
"It's still very early for me to make many comparisons without being rash, but my transition has gone well so far," Rolfe said of his adjustment. "It's great being around people with ideas that are new to me, yet when that's the case there is always going to be a learning curve. I'm just hoping to get on board with the team sooner rather than later."
Rolfe is not the only American on AaB. Fellow forward Marcus Tracy has been with the club since January, 2009.
While some American players in the past have said they felt Americans receive different treatment when playing soccer in Europe, Rolfe hasn't experienced this problem.
"In general, I don't believe so," Rolfe said when asked if he is treated differently as an American. "The only problem that myself and Marcus face is that we aren't able to fully understand team meetings and instructions without the help of someone translating. However, any players outside of Scandinavia would be confronted with the same difficulties."
Aalborg currently sit in fifth place with 28 points through 20 games. They trail fourth place Silkeborg by seven points. Over the final 13 games of the season, Rolfe said that AaB's goal is to crack the top four of the league.
"In the simplest terms, my goal is to be able to help our team, in whatever capacity, reach its goals," Rolfe explained. "At this point of the season, our goal is to finish our season in May in no lower than fourth place."
While trying to help lead AaB into the top four, Rolfe also hopes that his European career will improve him as a player.
"I hope to expand my knowledge of the game and to become a better player by observing and staying open minded."
With the 2010 World Cup now less than 90 days away, Rolfe knows that making US World Cup team will be difficult. However with the US struggling at the forward position he still holds out hope. Rolfe will continue to push hard to make his case until the final roster is announced.
"At this point, I think it would be very difficult for me to earn a spot on the World Cup roster," Rolfe concluded. "It's something that has motivated me over the last three years and will continue to do so until the roster is announced."