The biggest difference is that no matter what [level] you play in the US, everybody tries to play football.
In the first of two exclusive articles, English Players Abroad (EPA) interviews Orlando City’s Luke Boden. The former Sheffield Wednesday player joined Orlando in 2011, and now after four seasons in the USL Pro league, Boden is set to play in the MLS next year, with Orlando joining the league for the 2015 season.
Having begun his career at Sheffield Wednesday, Boden went on to make several first team appearances for the Owls between 2006 and 2011. His spell in his homeland also included loan moves to Chesterfield, Rushden & Diamonds and Northampton Town.
In 2011, he upped sticks and moved to Orlando City, who at the time, played in the USL Pro league one of the two professional football leagues below Major League Soccer (MLS).
During his time in England, he was predominately a midfielder but has more recently played at left-back in the US.
In four seasons with Orlando, he has won three USL Pro Commisssioner’s Cups (awarded to the team who finish top of the league) and two USL Pro championships (awarded to the winner of the end-of-season playoffs).
Next year will see Boden compete in the top tier for the first time. After being confirmed as an MLS franchise in November 2013, the side are now in full preparation for their first season with the big boys. The Englishman has already agreed a multi-year contract to continue to play at Orlando in the MLS.
EPA caught up with Luke to chat all things American as Orlando gears up for its inaugural season in the MLS. Thanks to Jhamie Chin at Orlando City for helping conduct the interview.
- After several years as a professional in England, how did the move to Orlando come about?
I was coming to an age where I wanted to be playing regular first team football. I was 21 at the time, and obviously when you get to 21, you want to be playing regularly. That was one of the main reasons for me wanting to come to Orlando.
- How does the football in the US compare to England?
Looking at the standard, [it is] near-on the exact same. Look at the standard of players who are over here in the US now. Obviously [there’s] Orlando signing Kaka plus [there’s] Henry [and] Cahill, so a lot of big names are playing over here now. The standard is really, really high. It’s great and it’s only going to get better.
- What has been the biggest difference you’ve noticed whilst playing football in the US as opposed to at home?
The biggest difference is that no matter what [level] you play in the US, everybody tries to play football. Everybody tries to play out from the back. Everybody tries to play through the midfield and create chances. Whereas in England, I think that a lot of teams like to play a lot of ‘back-to-front’. A lot of long ball. So the biggest difference is that most teams here try to play the ball on the floor which is good.
In part 2 of the interview, Luke talks Dom Dwyer, Adrian Heath and Kaka. It will be up on the site in the coming days.