BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, June 7, 2010
After having played with United States Under-20 national team last month in Holland, American midfielder Shaun Greenfield is in Italy where he has trials scheduled with three different teams.
Greenfield, 18, moved to Spain four years ago and with the help of a student visa, was able to play soccer throughout the country despite having only an American passport.
He initially started within the youth systems of Atletico Madrid but has played for various teams across the country.
Greenfield has also seen his youth career take him to playing in Eastern Europe with clubs such as Gloria Bistrita in Romania and most recently FC Chernomorets in the Ukraine.
At Chernomorets, the club had planned to sign him but due to their pending relegation from the top division, decided against the matter.
"I went there and I started training with them but I got there at a bad time," Greenfield told YA about his time with Chernomorets. "The season was almost over. They ended up going down in the division and told me they couldn't sign me because they went down. They didn't have the money."
Now with the season complete, Greenfield has trials lined up in Italy with three clubs in Brescia, Genoa and Lecce.
"The trials will be with the primavera teams," Greenfield discussed. "But if I show them what I am made of, they will probably get me with the first team."
Greenfield also said that part of what has helped him earn these trials was a recent, and rather unexpected, resume boost when coach Thomas Rongen added Greenfield to the US U20 national team roster for their most recent camp in Holland.
Greenfield was not on the initial roster for the camp but was added a few days later. Greenfield didn't find out he was invited until he saw the announcement on US Soccer's official web page.
"When I first heard it, I didn't even know I was called," Greenfield recalled. "My mom called me and told me to go online and check out US Soccer and it said 'Shaun Greenfield.' I was in shock. I didn't even know what to think. I was jumping up and down."
Greenfield grew up in Weston, Florida and had never played for a US national team before at any level. While he was surprised, there had been recent contact between him and USSF staff.
"I didn't know Rongen was actually looking at me," Greenfield said of his selection. "I know they have been asking questions about the teams I have been at. I think when I actually send them a video of all the teams I have been at and how I've been playing, I think that is when they actually gave me a chance."
As for his time with the US U20 team, he enjoyed the experience and felt that he played well. The team played in two full friendlies against Senegal and South Korea as well as the Cor Groenwegen tournament where the games are played with 20 minute halves.
"The first day we played against Senegal and the team had a good connection," Greenfield discussed. "Even though I was new, I got treated well. The coaching was [good]. I think I did pretty well.
"I was a little bit nervous when I first got there," he admitted. "But then they just told me to go play my game and not worry about it. It's not just one person, we have to be a team. I was a little more calm when they told me that."
For Greenfield, he entered into the camp as a virtual stranger to his teammates. He was only familiar with Bryan Dominguez who was a friend of his since his days in Florida. Still, he came away from the camp very impressed by the skill of the American team.
"They were awesome. It was a lot better than I expected," Greenfield admitted. "Everybody was down to earth. I made a couple of friends. It was nice. It was a great experience."
Greenfield is primarily a central attacking midfielder who is most comfortable when playing just behind the forwards. He can also be used as a left midfielder as well. It is at these positions that Greenfield feels he can use his strengths of dribbling in tight spaces and leverage his vision in his passing game.
He got a chance to play these positions with the US team and now is very much hoping to be part of the team going forward. Playing in next year's U20 World Cup is a primary goal for him.
"It is on my mind," Greenfield said excitedly. "Right now, it's one of my biggest dreams to play with the U20 team at the World Cup in Colombia. Right now people are on break because the seasons are over but I want to get training because I want to be there."
Another one of the reasons why Greenfield feels he had a great experience with the US team was because of the coaching staff of the team. Rongen encouraged Greenfield in Holland to play his game and not be afraid to use his creativity.
"He was very good. He was very intelligent," Greenfield said of Rongen. "He told me not to be scared and to dribble. He told me to show off a little more of my technique."
"I know US Soccer likes to do a little more running and long ball but he told me and a couple of guys that have a lot of technique, 'I want you to touch it and touch it,'" he said evoking Rongen. "'Do your game and don't worry about it'... He actually knew a lot about what he was talking about."
Now in Italy, Greenfield will look to use his skills to earn a contract in the Primavera, the country's famous youth league. Regardless of how that goes, he feels strongly that he wants to begin his career in Europe as opposed to returning to the US.
"I probably want to stay here in Europe because the way I play soccer is more European than any other place I know," Greenfield concluded.