Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Videira finds his way back to New England

At about this time last year, alot of soccer people - myself included - were readying themselves for the upcoming SuperDraft. Like many, I leaned heavily upon Buzz Carrick's annual Top 10 collegiate prospects report to see who's stock was CVS Caremark Corporation(CVS) and who's was RiteAid (RAD).

At the four spot in under the Top 20 overall Draft Prospects was Duke's Michael Videira. Among midfielders, Videira was ranked number one, with Carrick effusive in his praise for the Duke senior:

"Videira is about as sure a thing as you'll find in this year's midfield pool. The Blue Devil is a big, active player with good feet and range. He battled an injury much of this year but was still third-team All-American. A three-time Hermann Trophy semifinalist and three-time All-ACC selection, Videira has a remarkable college resume. His career tally of 15 goals and 32 assists shows his game-changing ability. A former U.S. U-18 and U-20, Videira was on the Generation adidas target list last year."

But there were whispers. Videira, a sure-fire first round pick, was going to 86 MLS and test his luck overseas. On draft day, his stock slid until the Revolution gambled and took him in the second round. Manager Steve Nicol understood the risk, but felt that gambit was worthwhile given the caveat that New England owned his MLS rights for two years should the former Blue Devil fail to catch on in Europe.

As expected, Videira flirted with the idea of playing European football. Eventually, he landed with Hamilton Academical (Scottish Premier League) months later in August. Not exactly the upper echelon European side the midfielder likely had in mind.

To make a short story shorter, Videira spent more time on the Scottish pine than pitch, and the club released less than four months later. With little certainty besides the promise of playing Revolution, he decided to return to the States. The Revolution formally announced his signing yesterday.

When I heard the news of the signing, I was a immediately reminded of Videira's quote from Mike Biglin's post-draft piece.

"I couldn't be happier that I went to the Revolution,'' said Videira. "So, for some reason if things don't work out in Europe, at least I'll be coming back and have a chance to play at home. That's much better than if I was in some random city.''

If that isn't a piece of prescience, then call me Miss Cleo.

So here we are, less than a year later, and the Revolution's prodigal son has returned. Some will say that Videira's selection was a masterstroke. A double-banked shot to sink the eight ball. The Duke star, after a year's absence, eventually returned home to play for his home club. With the departures of Khano Smith and Adam Cristman, Videira's chances of carving a starting role are far greater this year.

It's also fitting that his arrival coincides with the recent realization that Steve Ralston is not as bionic as many of us thought. The veteran midfielder sustained two serious injuries last season, and the club floundered in his absence. Whether he knows it or not, Videira will likely be called upon to assume Ralston's role sooner rather than later.


How this move plays out will be one of the most interesting storylines of the 2009. Not only does Videira bring a high pedigree to the pitch, but he is also another local kid - a Portuguese kid playing in a region with a high density of Portuguese - looking to make good for the Revolution, much like Michael Parkhurst.

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