BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Despite being one of the most promising young American players, US Under-20 central defender Gale Agbossoumonde is currently without a club and will look to join a new team at the next transfer window.
Agbossoumonde, 18, joined Portuguese club SC Braga on loan in January where he did not see any first team minutes but made the bench occasionally and played regularly in the Liga Intercalar.
Initially Braga was set to extend his loan but prior to the close of the transfer window, plans changed largely due to the club's poor financial situation.
"Everything was setup for me to return," Agbossoumonde told YA from Portugal. "But they changed their staff all of a sudden and got a new director and a new president. At the last minute they disagreed [about bringing me back]."
Since his plans to return to Braga fell apart at the last minute, Agbossoumonde will train at Portuguese second division club Estoril Praia until the transfer window opens in January.
"The finances weren't right and Braga didn't agree with Traffic," Agbossoumonde described. "So I am not back at Braga anymore. When I came back from Peru, I went to Estoril where I will be training. I am actually staying with Tony Taylor."
Agbossoumonde's rights are still held by Traffic Sports, the Brazilian sports management company that also operates Estoril Praia as well as a few other clubs.
While he is training at Estoril, Agbossoumonde is happy to have somewhere to play but realizes that Estoril is not the optimal place for him in the long-term and he is looking forward to moving on in January.
"I kind of wish I wasn't training here [at Estoril] because the team has six centerbacks," Agbossoumonde discussed. "Even in training I don't get into the rotation as much as I wish I could. But you have to respect that because it is their team and they actually have a good chance at getting promoted this year. They're pretty good."
"I am just training with until the transfer window opens again," he continued. "Hopefully something good will be available. That is what the plan is."
The Togo-born Agbossoumonde still considers his time at Braga to have been a success even if it ended before he would have liked. He feels that playing with the Champions League caliber team has improved him as player.
"It was a really good experience," Agbossoumonde recalled. "I definitely improved there. I was hoping I was going back but it kind of fell through at the end."
As he is looking for a new club, Agbossoumonde will also continue to be a regular with the US U20 team as they move forward in the cycle. He recently competed with the team in Peru at the Cuadrangular Internacional Tournament.
The US team, which was missing most of its regulars, finished the tournament winless in four games where playing at 8000 feet altitude was a significant factor.
"It was really tough playing in that high of altitude," Agbossoumonde admitted. "It was extremely hard and really different. You couldn't breathe."
Prior to the tournament in Peru, Agbossoumonde was the captain of the U20 team for the Milk Cup in July in Northern Ireland. The prestigious youth tournament was the first time in the cycle where the US U20 head coach Thomas Rongen was able to have a significant number of his top players available.
Agbossoumonde was one of the most impressive players of the whole tournament as the US won all three games in route to the title. Agbossoumonde's strong play even included a free kick goal in the championship game against hosts Northern Ireland.
The differences in the approach Rongen took between the Milk Cup and the tournament in Peru was significant. The next time the team assembles, tentatively scheduled to be in November with rumored opponents being Colombia and Mexico, the top players will be available.
"This team we went to in Peru was a whole different team [than the Milk Cup]," Agbossoumonde pointed out. "It was more like the coach trying to give everyone playing time to see what some guys could do."
Agbossoumonde, along with midfielder Dillon Powers, played with the US U20 team last cycle and was on the 2009 U20 World Cup team. After seeing most of the top players in action at the Milk Cup, he is optimistic of this team's chances compared with last cycle.
"This team is strong," Agbossoumonde said frankly. "Much better than last time."
For now, Agbossoumonde will be focused on working hard in training at Estoril Praia and staying in shape to impress clubs who may be interested in acquiring him in January.
As for now, he would like to stay in Europe but doesn't have any strong preferences as to what league he would like to play in next.
"I am pretty much open to anything," he concluded.