BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, May 27, 2010
After playing in MLS since 2007, American left back Amaechi Igwe will move his career to Europe after signing a two year contract with FC Ingolstadt who recently were promoted to the 2 Bundesliga.
Entering the 2010 MLS season, Igwe was still expecting to be part of the New England Revolution as he still had an option on his contract. Despite that, negotiations went sour and Igwe decided to move on.
"What happened with the Revs and my release is a bit complicated even to me," Igwe told YA yesterday. "I went into the offseason in an option year. In the offseason I found out my option for Generation Adidas wasn't being picked up but I was told I added value to the team and they turned around and offered me a one year deal with three options."
"I didn't want to be locked down in such a long contract with any team," he continued. "So I ended up not going into preseason with the Revs and my agent at the time asked New England to waive me and release my rights in order for me to be a free transfer."
Igwe, who turned 22 this past week, is still happy with the three seasons he spent in MLS. He entered into the league in 2007 as the 12th overall pick in the Superdraft.
Prior to that, he was a star at Santa Clara University where he played more as a forward than as a defender. It was at the Revolution were he converted to being a defender on a full-time basis.
"I really enjoyed my time in MLS" Igwe assessed of his time in the league. "I came onto a strong Revs team in 2007 who made it to the MLS Cup final and didn't see time my first year. The next two years I was really used as a utility player playing both outside left and right back and centrally. I think my three years in MLS prepared me very well. I also learned a lot about the business aspect of soccer, the positive and negative side."
After Igwe parted ways with the Revolution and MLS, it was his goal to move his career overseas. He had an initial trial with Aalborg in Denmark and after that, he headed to Germany.
There he would trial with FC Nuremberg, Greuther Furth and Ingolstadt. It was with the Bavarian club in Igolstadt where he would find the right fit.
"The assistant coach of Aalborg had set up another trial for me to go to in Sweden but at the same time a connection from Germany got in contact with me and urged me to go there," the Belmont, Califorina native recalled. "At that point in time I was ready to fly back to the States and try some options within MLS but I decided to take my chances in Germany the day before I was supposed to fly back to the States. I took a huge risk but it ended up working out for the better and I signed a two year contract with Ingolstadt."
Igwe has long been a part of US Soccer youth systems. He saw time with the US U17 program and a few years later, made the 2007 US U20 World Cup team that would make the quarterfinals in Canada.
Igwe, who is half Italian and half Nigerian, is currently looking into the possibility of getting a Nigerian passport. His father played for the Nigerian national team in the 1960s and 1970s.
It is in Germany that Igwe wants to develop to the international level at the senior level. He wants to continue the family legacy left by his father of playing the sport at the highest level.
"I took a huge risk by not accepting the contract proposal with New England and going abroad. I worked hard and everything fell into place," Igwe said of his current status. "Now I'm in a great situation, with a good club, in a great league for a young player to develop. From training with a few German clubs and seeing the level and the way they train on a daily basis, I expect to develop.
"All I hope to do is develop and get to as high of a level as possible," he concluded. "I'm just going to go in, work hard and hope that things fall into place. In a year I want to be a consistent starter. In five years I want to develop into an international caliber left defender."