2014 will be a year Luke Boden will never forget. Although his side, Orlando City, did not achieve USL Pro playoff success, the English defender will forever remember last year as the year he became an MLS player.
Boden began his career at his local club Sheffield Wednesday, making fifteen league appearances in a five year period which included three loan spells to Chesterfield, Rushden & Diamonds and Northampton Town respectively.
After failing to secure a place in the Owls’ starting line-up, Boden terminated his contract with the, then, League One side and made the move to the States to join USL Pro side Orlando City (USL Pro is technically the third tier in the US but with no promotion or relegation in place, all divisions act on separate basis).
Despite the significant change in scenery, swapping Sheffield for Florida, Boden took instantly to his new surroundings, becoming a regular for his new side.
His first year with Orlando was the definition of success. He started 22 games as his new side won both the USL Pro title and the USL Pro playoffs, making the club’s inaugural season an unprecedented success.
Boden followed this up with a further title in 2012, as well as another playoff win in 2013.
However, 2014 was by far the Sheffield-born defender’s best ever, if not on a team level, then certainly on a individual level.
He started 26 games in all competitions, contributing three goals (including one against MLS side Colorado Rapids in the US Open Cup) as Orlando won the USL Pro title.
Although his side failed to win in the playoffs, Boden’s performances did not go unnoticed.
First, he was named in the USL Pro team of the year, earning recognition as one of the best defenders in the league.
Then, after four years with Orlando, his spell in Florida would be extended as he was offered a contract to continue with the side as they enter the MLS this year.
This means 2015 will see Boden compete amongst the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the US’ top tier. He will also take to the field with the former FIFA World Player of the Year Kaká, who joined Orlando earlier this year.
2014 was an individually brilliant season for Luke Boden. He won the USL Pro title, earned a place in the league’s team of the year and secured an MLS contract. This year we will see if he can do the same in America’s premier football league.