Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Ade Scale.

The Ade scale will judge the MLS. Akinbiyi is joining Houston.

If you have ever wondered where MLS stands when compared with the leagues of Europe, you need only look at the players coming into the states to find the answer. The latest import to the MLS is going to be an excellent judge of standards, as Ade Akinbiyi is on his way to MLS this week to join Houston.

After the jump, find out a little more about Ade and how his arrival could unearth the answer to this common question. Is MLS any good?

So Ade Akinbiyi, the journeyman extraordinaire. He has been at more clubs than Cheryl Cole and most recently, was riding the wood at Burnley.

While I bow my head to the MLS puritans this season, it has been better than last year, the arrival of Ade will prove the standard of this league once and for all. Ade is no Beckham, Ljunberg or Schelotto. However Akinbiyi does share one thing with that crew: his age. Ade is 34 years old and has played at League One and Championship level for most of his career.

In his prime he was dangerous... at those levels AND only with certain teams. Ade has to fit. If he doesn't fit the team's style of play, allowing him to pretty much work on his own, off the shoulder of the last defender, he fails and moves on to pastures new.

Akinbiyi started at Norwich where he was so scared of the goal that he would stop in his tracks, one-on-one with the keeper, and wait for support. The fans would scream "SHOOOOOT!!!," but to no avail. City bored with waiting for Ade to mature and sold him to Gillingham.

It was there that he showed what he was capable of, scoring on an average of every other game. This prompted a move to Bristol where he continued his good form. Wolves took note and took a gamble. Akinbiyi scored 16 goals at Wolves but was sold to Leciester in the Premier League. This was the peak of his career and just 11 goals in 2 years saw him move to Crystal Palace where he only scored 3 goals.

A loan spell at Stoke saw him seal a move to the Britania stadium, where he he found the net 17 times over the next two seasons. His next stop was Burnley. 16 goals during the 2005/2006 season prompted Sheffield United to take a gamble. Ade played just 18 times for United before moving back to Burnley in 2007. During his second spell at Burnley, Ade scored 10 goals in 70 appearances.

This season Akinbiyi has been on the bench and often left out of the squad entirely. During the last few years, Akinbiyi has become more of a hustling forward to compensate for his loss of pace.

Burnley loves an oldie. Akinbiyi and Andy Cole.

As I said. Ade was useful and could be deadly in the right team... in his prime. Ade is no longer in his prime and has been on borrowed time in the Colaship for the last 3 years. In fact, his other option to the MLS was a gig in League One, and probably only on a one year deal.

Maybe he could have found a home on the bench and played 20 games for a Championship side like Blackpool, maybe. But unlikely. His Colaship days were done.

I would expect Ade to struggle in the MLS. IF the American league is better than League One, like most MLS fans claim. IF that is the case then Ade will find the net maybe 2-3 times this season and no more than 5. If he starts banging in goals left right and center and looking like a gem, then it will be clear that the MLS has a long way to go to reach the consistent competition on offer in the Coca Cola Championship, let alone the Premier League.

Don't get me wrong here folks, I want the MLS to be successful. I live in NY and would love to be able to take my boy to a decent game. However, the Red Bulls are certainly not worth 3 hours of traffic at the moment, which is why moves for players like Akinbiyi baffle me. They are cheap, sure, but improvement at this level will only come with players arriving in their prime, whether they be from League One or the Championship.

Until then, the MLS appears to be happy as the home of 'stepping stone' south Americans (Montero) and old journeymen, seeking a last paycheck before signing out.



The Fan's Attic said...

so what's that say about Hucks?

Bigus Dickus said...

That he is too good for this league? Didn't we kinda know that?

The NY Kid said...

dammit! I thought this was going to be a comparison of various players named "Ade"

Bigus Dickus said...

Name 5 more for a prize.

The NY Kid said...

Manny Adebayor
Adewale Ogunleye (what? it's football!)