Chad Ochocinco’s MLS Debut? Meh.
Chad Ochocinco may hang out with guys like Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi, but he’s got a ways to go if he wants to emulate them on the field.
After his ballyhooed tryout with the MLS’ Sporting Kansas City, the talkative wide receiver stepped onto the pitch for game competition Monday in an exhibition game against the Kansas City Brass of the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League. Think of it like a Major League Baseball team playing an exhibition against its AAA club.
Judging from the critique in USA Today, Ochocinco shouldn’t look to hang up the pads anytime soon.
Here’s our final scouting report on Ochocinco’s performance:
• Looks awkward on the field and appears slow reading the game.
• Extremely dependent on his right foot; little ability or desire to use his left.
• Failed to show any of his speed.
• Very few runs off the ball and doesn’t make himself available as an outlet for teammates. Looked disinterested for the most part.
• Tentative on defense and when challenging for the ball.
• A couple of positives are his ability to shield the ball and that he has a winger’s mentality — despite his skill level. He’s not afraid to dribble and take on a defender. His football background allows him to do an adequate job of protecting the ball and keeping possession with a defender on his back.
I wasn’t sure if that was rundown of his soccer performance or some of his games with the Bengals in the last couple of seasons.
After the game, both Ochocinco and Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes admitted that the player’s lack of soccer conditioning hurts him. Ochocinco says he hasn’t done any running since the last game of his NFL season. The two sides will meet on Tuesday to discuss Chad’s future with the team. If today was any indication, it doesn’t look good.
In all seriousness, kudos to Ochocinco for taking the leap. Generally pro athletes turning to a second sport get treated as guys out for publicity or dismissed as novelties. But there are plenty of high level athletes who harbor a fear of failure that wouldn’t allow them to step out of their comfort zones. Not to mention it takes more than a touch of athletic ability to even get on the field – your name and fame will only get you so far. With Baltimore Ravens’ safety Tom Zbikowski stepping into the boxing ring and now Ochocinco stepping onto the pitch, you have to respect a guy who’s willing to take on a new challenge.