BRIAN SCIARETTA - Sunday, January 10, 2010
Following last week's announcement that Portuguese leaders Sporting Braga have acquired USA U20 defender Gale Agbossoumonde on loan, the young American says he is excited about joining his new club for the second half of the season.
"The coaches here are great and the players are nice," Agbossoumonde told YA about his initial impressions so far. "With the good season we are having so far, everyone is happy."
Last summer Agbossoumonde, 18, made the decision to go professional and he signed with the Brazilian sports management group, Traffic Sports, who own his rights. The terms of the loan agreement have Agbossoumonde with Braga through the end of the season but the Portuguese club will have the option to buy him this summer.
The Togo-born Agbossoumonde began training with the reserve team of his new club on December 28th. Despite having only been with the team a few days, he was selected to play for Sporting Braga in their January 4th Liga Intercalar match against Vitória de Guimarães. The Liga Intercalar is a tournament in Portugal featuring mostly reserve teams.
While Sporting Braga lost 2-0 in that match, Agbossoumonde earned solid reviews for his play. The next day following that match, Agbossoumonde was called to train with the first team.
"When I got here I trained three times with the reserve team. After my first game, they liked how I played and the first team called and I trained with them. We lost but I feel that I played well," Agbossoumonde said. "For now I am going to be switching back and forth between training with the second and the first teams. I will be playing with the second team."
Agbossoumonde is scheduled for now to play primarily with the other young players on the second team. Making a first team appearance will certainly be difficult for the young American due to the very strong season Braga are having. They are currently tied for first place with Benfica with 35 points and Braga's defense is by far the best having only allowed six goals through 15 games. Despite that, Agbossoumonde says making the first team is a goal of his.
"I don't know if I will be making any first team appearances this season but that is my goal." Agbossoumonde explained. "Hopefully if I continue to play well they will give me the opportunity."
Whether or not Agbossoumonde succeeds in making first team appearances this second half of the season, he feels that this loan to Braga will greatly improve him as a player.
"The players are just a lot more technical. Playing in Portugal is definitely going to improve my game technically," Agbossoumonde stressed. "I am sure I am going become a better playing in training with the first team and playing with the reserves."
In addition to his time with Braga, Agbossoumonde will also likely be a key player for the US U-20 national team as they start this new cycle and progress towards the 2011 U-20 World Cup in Colombia.
Agbossoumonde was also part of the 2009 U-20 World Cup team in Egypt. While that team failed to advance out of group play, Agbossoumonde played well and impressed. Agbossoumonde and teammate Dillon Powers were the only two players from that team who were also age-eligible for the 2011 cycle.
Last month, Agbossoumonde was named by US U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen to the roster for the first camp of the 2011 cycle. Having completed that camp, he concluded that there should be significant differences between the last cycle and the current one.
"Compared with the last team, this new team is a little more technical and plays more creative," Agbossoumonde said on his impressions of the new U20 group. "The last team we worked hard and tried to play as a team. It is very different. It will be a different style. Hopefully it works out well."