JON VAN WAGENEN - Sunday, March 21, 2010
After two weeks of trial, Johann Smith is set to sign a one year contract with Allsvenskan team Kalmar FF.
Smith was injured in a freak accident during the trial but says that he is returning to health.
"I've still got a lot to prove," Smith told Yanks Abroad. "I don't want to get too happy just because I signed a contract, although it is an accomplishment."
The 22-year old is looking to live up to the heightened expectations that were created when he signed with Bolton Wanderers in 2006 and scored several goals for the US U20 team.
Smith indicated that his goals are to show everyone that he is a quality player.
"First and foremost to play, to play well and to play to my strengths, to get the team to a top three position, to show the rest of the world and the national team."
Joining the stable Swedish league is a positive step after a negative experience in Croatia. HNK Reijka had three coaches in the five months Smith was there, plus the paychecks stopped being delivered, despite a Europa League appearance.
"It was already far away enough, things just piled up," Smith added.
So Smith flew to Sweden where he had a try out scheduled with recently relegated Hammarby. But when that fell through, Smith's agent found out that Kalmar could use another right winger.
Smith made a good first impression in training and showcased his speed in 15 minutes of a training match. Things were going well until Smith slipped on a patch of concrete and crashed into a wooden bench in the practice before the season opener.
Despite initial reports that a bone had been broken, Smith had short stay in the hospital and "only" a deep wound. He has been running and doing a little ball work and hopes to be back in full training on Monday, when the stitches will be removed.
Smith said he feels at home in Sweden and that it helps that there are a couple native English speakers with the team and the Swedes were friendly too.
In addition, he alluded to his prior conversation with former Hammarby striker Charlie Davies and an earlier trial in Sundsvall have helped prepare him for his Swedish adventure.
"I'm ready to kick on," Smith said of the nascent season.
As for next year, after his contract runs out, Smith feels like everything will take care of itself.
"[I'm]taking positive steps and [will] make the best decision, be that in Kalmar or elsewhere," he concluded.