BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, April 3, 2013
After signing with IK Brage last week, central defender Tyler Ruthven is looking forward to starting his European as the Swedish Superettan opens this weekend.
After graduating the University of South Carolina in 2010, Ruthven has only played professionally in the United States. First he was with lower division teams Harrisburg City Islanders and Atlanta Silverbacks. Last season, however, he played in MLS with the New York Red Bulls.
The move to Brage was not one that Ruthven, 24, was anticipating but it was his best option remaining after MLS preseason with the Red Bulls did not work out.
"Honestly it was not a move I had ever really thought about," Ruthven told YA. "I prepared all winter to return to NY and win a new contract. It looked like things were going to work out, but ultimately they did not. By opening weekend in MLS all of the clubs that had interest in me were up against the salary cap and roster constraints. I turned down some offers in the NASL and decided the opportunity at Brage was ultimately going to be the best place to get my career back on track."
The circumstances as to why Ruthven parted ways with the Red Bulls are unclear. In 2012 his performances with the club earned mostly positive reviews. Last month just prior to the start of the season it appeared that he had agreed to terms for a new contract with the club. Instead, however, the deal fell through at the last moment and Ruthven tweeted that his contract had been "torn up."
Despite the abrupt end to his time with New York, Ruthven looks back fondly and appreciatively to his time at the club. He is adamant that he is a better player as a result of the organization and hopes to one day return to MLS.
"My experience with Red Bull changed me as a professional forever, and all in a positive way," Ruthven said. "The club makes so many resources available for you to better yourself, whether its nutrition or strength or just training with world class players. My year with Red Bull was definitely the highlight of my career so far. It was unfortunate how things ended as the timing forced me to try my luck abroad but I think playing in a European league will help me evolve as a professional and hopefully open the door for a return to MLS."
Looking ahead, his task at Brage is a tall order. Last season the club finished in 10th place in the Superettan but this year the ambitions are higher. After acquiring Ruthven and established players in Scandinavia, Brage is trying to put itself into position to contend for promotion into Sweden's top flight, the Allvenskan.
"From what I have been told, [last year] there was a very small difference in points between third through like eleventh," Ruthven explained. "The club has made some big signings this winter in Jan Tauer, and Dulee Johnson. These are established players that have played at a high level, so there is definitely some talk of pushing for promotion. Obviously you take it one week at a time and see what happens, but I am excited to play in an open league season for the first time."
Ruthven has only been in Sweden for little more than a week and is trying to learn and adapt quickly to a new team in a different country. Already he realizes that there are vast differences between MLS and Superettan but is excited for the challenge.
Instead, the Alpharetta, Georgia native sees the opportunity at Brage with his one year deal as a chance to prove himself as a player capable of playing the game at a high level.
"The style of play is certainly different," Ruthven concluded. "MLS has a lot of world class athletes on the field, and it's a very fast paced, high pressing league. Here a lot of teams play their back line very high and try and keep the team compact. They don't really open up and go chase teams all over the park. It is different to me and it will definitely take me some time to adapt, but I am excited by the challenge. It will be a good year for me to try and prove myself again."
Ruthven and IK Brage open the 2013 season this Sunday, April 7 on the road against Angelholm.