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Posted at 9:27 PM ET, 01/31/2011

Off the U.S. soccer radar, Silver Spring's Erik Opsahl signs with English club Reading

By Steve Goff

Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu moved to Turkey. Michael Bradley was loaned to an English club. Eddie Johnson is headed elsewhere in England.

And while some of American soccer's most well-known players were changing addresses before the close of the European transfer window, a teenager from the Washington area with no national team credentials at any level quietly signed with Reading, the second-tier English club that once employed Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey in the Premier League.

His name is Erik Opsahl. He is an 18-year-old central midfielder. He played for elite youth clubs in this area, most recently the Pachuca Internationals. He attended Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md., served in D.C. United's youth academy and made three brief appearances as a freshman at St. John's University this past fall. He made a state squad once and a regional team a few years ago but has never taken part in a national program.

For more.....

However, following a two-week trial this month arranged by Dan Segal of Wasserman Media Group, Reading offered him a contract through the remainder of the English campaign with an option for next season. He signed last Thursday and, after spending some time with family and friends in the D.C. area, will return to England later this week.

Opsahl expects to play for the reserves or under-18 squad. He acquired a work permit -- elusive to American players without family roots or an impressive senior national team portfolio -- because his grandfather on his mother's side is from England. His father was born in Norway (hence, the Scandinavian family name) and was raised in England.

"Playing overseas was always my goal," he told the Insider. Reflecting on his college experience, he said: "From a soccer standpoint, it was pretty bad. The understanding of the game is not very good. It wasn't a good fit for me."

Opsahl's desire to play overseas was fueled by previous international experiences: He traveled with club teams to Brazil in 2005 and '06, trained with Fluminense's youth teams the following year, with French club Bordeaux in 2008 and Bordeaux and Auxerre in France in '09.

For years, Opsahl was trained by former USA international Philip Gyau, the father of American prospect Joseph Gyau, also 18, who is with German club Hoffenheim. Through the elder Gyau, Segal took interest in Opsahl.

"It is a great story about how there are little pockets of great soccer development throughout the U.S. that are not always part of the mainstream system," Segal said.

Reading's first team is currently in ninth place in the 24-club Championship division with a 10-6-11 record.

"This is what I've always wanted," he said. "I've spent a lot of time away from home for soccer, so I don't think it will be a difficult adjustment. It's the next step for me."

By Steve Goff  | January 31, 2011; 9:27 PM ET
Categories:  Americans Abroad, College Soccer, England, Youth soccer  | Tags:  Erik Opsahl, Reading  
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Next: D.C. United might acquire Charlie Davies on loan

Comments

47 days until United's first 2011 league match!

Posted by: Curious99 | January 31, 2011 9:46 PM | Report abuse

And congratulations to Erik. Hope the experience works out for him.

Posted by: Curious99 | January 31, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

How dare he mock college soccer!

Posted by: grubbsbl | January 31, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Cap Him!

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | January 31, 2011 10:06 PM | Report abuse

ERIK OPSAHL

Posted by: Curious99 | January 31, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Cap Him!

...before we lose him to Norway.

Posted by: BooThisMan | January 31, 2011 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Stories like this one are the reasons I know the US will win a World Cup . . . seemingly bit players (like DeMerit) playing a prominent role for our squad . . .

and they have nothing to do with Project 40 (hear that, Ridge Mahoney?)

Posted by: delantero | January 31, 2011 10:58 PM | Report abuse

That's so neat.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | January 31, 2011 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Judging soccer talent is clearly a very subjective art form. And this is very cool; there are getting to be a LOT of US players in the upper tiers of English football. Look forward to seeing Erik in Reading's first team in a few years.

Posted by: glfrazier | February 1, 2011 1:07 AM | Report abuse

OT: (and super cool) The MLS Insider twitter feed passed along this link to what some soccer jerseys of NFL teams could look like, and they're pretty spectacular. I would watch the countdown clock for when the Falcons ones went on sale. http://imgur.com/a/I7b32/1

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | February 1, 2011 6:01 AM | Report abuse

"It is a great story about how there are little pockets of great soccer development throughout the U.S. that are not always part of the mainstream system."

Amen to that.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | February 1, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Nice to know that I would qualify for a work permit, too, then...

Posted by: Reignking | February 1, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Curious99 may deserve credit for the first subtle usage of all CAPS.

Did anyone hear whether this Mubarak fellow in the Middle East moved anywhere before the international transfer window closed?

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | February 1, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Curious99 may deserve credit for the first subtle usage of all CAPS.

Did anyone hear whether this Mubarak fellow in the Middle East moved anywhere before the international transfer window closed?

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane

He signed with Villarreal.

Posted by: Reignking | February 1, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

The next Anton Peterlin!

Posted by: LostinPotomac | February 1, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Curious99 may deserve credit for the first subtle usage of all CAPS.
Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | February 1, 2011 9:47 AM
==========

+1. And I thought all he did was count backwards.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 1, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Good for him - I am also convinced that these sorts of less formal developments, along with MLS academies and college soccer (which serves some people very well, even if it didn't suit Mr. Opsahl) are together generating a tipping point for American soccer, if they haven't already done so. Many things could/should be different from many points of view, but I am amazed what I see watching my son's U10 club team play against other such teams in this region. There is a lot of potential talent out there bubbling up with and without the help of the formal mechanisms managed by the USSF and others.

Posted by: assocfoot | February 1, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Adu and Altidore have moved themselves one step closer to complete oblivion...should have stayed in MLS gentlemen, we're becoming a better league :)

Posted by: ChorzoMan | February 1, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

OT: (and super cool) The MLS Insider twitter feed passed along this link to what some soccer jerseys of NFL teams could look like, and they're pretty spectacular. I would watch the countdown clock for when the Falcons ones went on sale. http://imgur.com/a/I7b32/1
----------------------------------------------

Those are pretty cool and it is nice to see that soccer warrants enough attention from the NFL to do this even if they don't produce the jerseys. I'm with Jacob on getting the Falcons soccer jersey as a transplanted Falcon fan:)

Posted by: I-95Exit43 | February 1, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

OT: (and super cool) The MLS Insider twitter feed passed along this link to what some soccer jerseys of NFL teams could look like, and they're pretty spectacular. I would watch the countdown clock for when the Falcons ones went on sale. http://imgur.com/a/I7b32/1
----------------------------------------------

Those are pretty cool and it is nice to see that soccer warrants enough attention from the NFL to do this even if they don't produce the jerseys. I'm with Jacob on getting the Falcons soccer jersey as a transplanted Falcon fan:)

here is a link to football helmets from the Mexican Primeria division.

http://www.mediotiempo.com/futbol/mexico/galerias/2011/01/los-cascos-de-mt

Posted by: I-95Exit43 | February 1, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

St. Louis has a 3rd jersey for international and domestic cup competitions.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 1, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Primera division players should wear helmets so that they don't get concussions when they dive.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | February 1, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

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