USA – Raised Eyebrows
When Michael joined the MetroStars (Bob was coach then) in 2004, it obviously raised more than one eyebrow, especially when fans claimed Michael played due to nepotism. Slowly but surely Michael improved. Perhaps the defining moment of the 2005 season occurred two weeks after Bob was fired as coach. In a must-win situation to guarantee a play-off berth, Michael marked his 30th appearance by scoring his first professional goal in the final game of the regular season, helping his team to a 2-0 victory over Chivas USA.
As an 18-year-old, Michael moved to Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie in January 2006, becoming the youngest ever MLS player to be transferred.
Michael has emerged as a key player for Heerenveen. As of 1 February 2008, he had scored 11 league goals and 15 overall for the club, both records for an American player performing in Europe.
Ihis is quite surprising since he forged his reputation as a defensive or holding midfielder, not as someone who regularly finds the net.
“It’s been nice because the movement of our team has been good,’ he says. “I’ve been able to see the right times to get forward, whether it’s been coming into the box a little bit late or running harder to get up as one of the first guys.”
There has been talk of interest from at least one German club and Blackburn Rovers sent a scout to watch Michael play. He would like to move on some day.
“When I look back on my career, I want to say that 1 played for big clubs, that I was successful, that I was able to win medals,” he says. “That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s not something I’m worried about or spend a lot of time thinking about it. The minute you start doing that, your performances on the field suffer.”