NICK LEYDEN - Wednesday, November 23, 2011
After a year of instability Gale Agbossoumonde is looking forward to settling into a regular role with Eintracht Frankfurt as well as the US U-23s.
The powerful defender has spent time with clubs in Portugal, Sweden and the USA recently, but feels that he is now in the right situation in Germany's second division.
Not coincidentally his optimism comes at a time when he has finally regained his health after struggling with injury for much of the past year.
With promising prospects in Frankfurt and a clean bill of health ‘Boss was called into the recent US U-23 camp in Germany and played the majority of the game against Bochum, a 3-1 win, after Ethan White went down with an injury.
While not thrilled with his own performance the Syracuse product was excited to begin shaking off the rust.
"I wasn't so happy with how I played, personally on my part," he told YA. "I mean I hadn't really played more than 15 minutes since April, so I was rusty, especially in the first half. But as the game went on I kind of caught up with the speed of play," he added.
Agbossoumonde left the camp impressed with the overall talent in the player pool, and is also enthusiastic about the tactical changes that have come with the appointments of Jurgen Klinsmann and Caleb Porter.
"I think we have a lot of talent, especially on the offensive end," he explained. "There's like four or five guys with the senior team, and then you have Juan (Agudelo) and everyone else here so I think it's a really deep squad."
The center back went on to discuss how he sees the changes brought by Klinsmann will benefit not only him, but the reputation of all American soccer players, as the US has begun to play a more technical style rather than the athletic, physical style that has been customary.
"I see that they're playing a little more soccer which is good I think. It fits my style a little more because I like to play as well," he stated.
"More and more, as you see, the US is getting talented individual players, so I think he's getting away from the physical style of play. More and more countries will start to respect us because normally when I go on a trial in different countries they say ‘Oh he's American. He's just big'. They don't expect you to have a soccer mind. But they're starting to see that Americans can play soccer," he explained.
Agbossoumonde, who said he models his game after that of Gerard Pique, is excited that the US now operates in a system in which defenders are expected to not only thwart the opposition but also contribute to his own team's attack.
"I think it's really important that all the attacks should be starting from the back. Like if you have a goal kick and you just kick it out it's a 50/50 chance, as opposed to if you have center backs who can play and just pass it and you have the advantage from there. It's important that the forwards and the midfield get the right ball, instead of just putting them into danger with a 50/50," he told YA.
The twenty year old credits much of his technical ability and tactical awareness to his stint with SC Braga in Portugal in 2010, where he was asked to train full time with the senior team after just one impressive game with the club's U-19 team.
That team, which Agbossoumonde pointed out was stocked with Brazilians, liked to possess the ball so he was forced to work on his distribution from the back.
"I rarely kicked the ball over the top," he joked.
Ironically, it is exactly that skill that he claims to be improving the most in Germany.
"I think my long ball is not as good, and I've been trying to work on it at Frankfurt," he said. "It's good to be technical and pass the ball, but it's necessary at times so I've been trying to work on it at Frankfurt," added the once-capped defender.
While he feels that certain characteristics of German soccer will help him continue to develop as a player, he does not believe that being based in Germany on its own will make him more appealing to Klinsmann and Porter, even though several other German-based players have been thrust into the spotlight.
"I don't see it as an advantage because all the guys who are playing in Germany and who aren't playing in Germany are all professionals, you know? So either you're professionals here or you're professionals there," he said.
Regardless of style of play or location of club, Agbossoumonde recognizes the most important thing for him right now is simply to secure regular playing time at Frankfurt.
"Right now it's important for me to play and I don't care if it's with the first team, the U-23, or the U-19, because I haven't really played since May. Especially talking with the coaches, they're telling me it's really important to find a team where I will get playing time."