Luke Woodland, a 20-year-old midfielder and recent addition to the Philippines national team player pool, is on trial with the New York Red Bulls until September 6 - per a report from Cedelf P. Tupas of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The piece is largely a match preview of the Philippines' upcoming World Cup qualifier, mentioning that the squad will slowly assemble over the next few days. One of the stragglers, arriving just two days before the Azkals' match against Uzbekistan, will be Woodland:
Luke Woodland will plane in on Sept. 6 as he is on trial with US Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls.
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Who is Luke Woodland? He is an Abu-Dhabi-born, England-qualified player who came up through the youth system of Bolton Wanderers, it says here. As a youth player, he was capped by England at U-16, U-17 and U-18 levels - with most of his appearances being for the national U-17 team. He turned pro with Bolton in 2013, after a season as part of a successful Trotters' U-18 squad. And he made a handful of on-loan appearances for Oldham Athletic in 2015.
The switch from England to the Philippines came this year. His debut - and only cap to date - was in the Azkals' 2-0 road win over Yemen in June. FootballChannel.Asia reports he played as part of a three-man back line in that game, implying he may be on RBNY's radar as both a midfielder and a defender.
The Azkals have won their first two matches in Group H of AFC 2018 World Cup qualifying. But the pending game against Uzbekistan is a bigger test than that provided by prior opponents Bahrain and Yemen. Twelve teams will advance from this round of AFC qualifying to a final stage that will determine the Confederation's four automatic representatives at Russia 2018. Two other teams will compete for the right to play off against the fourth-best team from CONCACAF qualifying for a berth in the 2018 World Cup.
Woodland was one of 13 players released at the end of this season. Murbroski, over at SB Nation's Lion of the Vienna Suite- the place to go for Bolton chat - had the following assessment of Woodland's departure:
I do wish that we'd have got to see more of Woodland and did hope that he'd be given another chance to show his worth at the club.
So he's a young player with some promise who maybe didn't get the breaks needed to make an impact or wasn't quite at the level required to get starts in the Championship in England. The Red Bulls know about evaluating not-good-enough-for-the-Championship talent: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Lloyd Sam and Mike Grella are all players who had bounced in and out of the second-tier of English football on professional journeys that ultimately led them to Red Bull Arena.
Woodland's national team coach, incidentally, is former MetroStar Thomas Dooley. We can expect confirmation of this story as soon as the club's beat reporters have a chance to ask the question. If Woodland is signed, perhaps we'll find out if he received any advice about RBNY from Dooley or his former Bolton teammate, Tim Ream.