JAMIE HILL - Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The close of the European transfer window was especially frenzied for big-name American soccer players, so fans could be forgiven for missing some of the new faces on the scene, such as Reading's new signing Erik Opsahl.
The 18-year-old inked a deal with the Championship club that runs until the end of the season, although Reading holds an option to extend it for another year.
Opsahl becomes the second young American to sign with a Championship club this season, following in the footsteps of Derby County's Conor Doyle.
Like Doyle, Opsahl has a family connection to Europe that allowed him to circumvent the UK's work permit requirement. In Opsahl's case, his father was born in Norway.
The midfielder first linked up with Reading thanks to his agent, Dan Segal. "It was a good experience at a really nice club. Everything was really positive," he told YA.
Opsahl remarked that he was unfazed by a trial abroad after already having experience training with Fluminense, Bordeaux, and Auxerre.
"[The trials] were really good, I got some experience in a professional environment and I found out what's necessary for that level of play," he said.
Opsahl's travels included three consecutive summers at Fluminense from 2005 to 2007, followed by multiple training stints at both Bordeaux and Auxerre over 2008 and 2009. He also spent time with DC United's youth team just before they became an official academy team, a stint that the Maryland native likened to an extended trial.
Most recently, Opsahl had been with St. John's, where he recently completed his freshman year.
Opsahl is excited to move from college soccer to the next level.
"I didn't really play much and the coaches didn't think that I was right for the team. College is where you go before you become a professional. Comparing college soccer with a reserve side or maybe even the U-18s, the level is not the same," Opsahl opined.
Now on the books at Reading, Opsahl looks forward the next phase of his career. While on trial in England he was training with the combined first team and reserves, so he hopes to begin with the Royals' reserve team.
Opsahl characterizes himself as a central midfielder, though he can drop a little deeper to play holding midfielder as well. "I can distribute the ball, break up the other teams' attack, spread the ball out, and start the attack," he said.
The newly minted professional would also look forward to a chance to represent the US internationally, stated. "I'd definitely be really happy if I was given an opportunity."
Although he is eligible for the U-20 and U-23 teams, Opsahl is not getting ahead of himself. "I'm going to start really working hard and let the chips fall where they may," he said, revealing a level-headed attitude.
Opsahl will officially begin his professional career when he returns to England later this week.