Update: Read more TSG coverage of Everton here.
My support for Everton football just got a bit stronger — American Cody Arnoux is foregoing his senior season at powerhouse Wake Forest and joining Everton FC.
That makes this the second American signed by Everton just this year–little known Cal Poly alum Anton Peterlin was the first–to go with vet Timmy Howard between the wickets.
Everton has now clearly established itself as the EPL’s America FC wrestling the title from Fullham who set the tone (and consequently had many Americans in their corner) over the past few years. While the Fullham side still boasts Clint Dempsey and a renewed Eddie Johnson (plus alums Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegro), Everton has, count ’em, three American born-and-bred players. Certainly another great step for American soccer.
While I personally enjoy watching some of the sensational international flavor that Everton has to offer: Aussie Tim Cahill is stellar in the air, Moroccan-born Belgium international Maroune Fellaini has the flair (and the hair) for the dramatic, and pint-sized South African Steven Pienaar can slalom through defenders with the best of them, the real story here has to be the program that Wake Forest has built. If you haven’t had a chance to watch any NCAA tournament soccer over the past few years, I encourage you to try and take a moment and watch the Demon Deacons come together for 90 minutes–the fighting spirit that 2007 and 2008 Coach of the Year Jay Vidovich has instilled is second to none.
Among just a sampling of the former and current players that Wake Forest counts among their locker room alum are:
Sam Cronin — featured in the U.S.-Haiti Gold Cup game last week
Michael Parkhurst – USMNT defender who will probably get the nod at CB today against Honduras
Cody Arnoux – bringing his 32 goals and 16 assists from last season with him to Everton FC
Marcus Tracy – Forward and now starter for the top Danish squad AaB
Ike Opara – 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year who runs with the U.S. U-20 squad
Pat Phelan – MLS New England Revolution starter
and a personal favorite….
Valentin is an alum of Wake Forest and the Los Angeles Galaxy, however he is probably best known for a vicious hit he received in the 2007 NCAA Championship game (one of the best college or pro games I have watched). Valentin went head first to defend a loose ball near the Wake Forest 18 and received a cleat in the face that is one of the worst if not the worst cosmetic injuries I’ve seen in soccer.
Kudos to a great Wake Forest program and to Cody Arnoux. Take a peek at that 2007 Championship game between Wake Forest and Ohio State here, along with the facial to Julian Valentin at the 1-minute mark of the clip. Apologies as the clip is grainy.