Adam Eckersley, brother of former New York Red Bulls right back Richard, will move to America in January if all goes to plan. The 30-year-old left back signed with Scottish Championship side Hibernian about a week ago, but revealed to Barry Anderson of the Edinburgh Evening News that he plans to move to the United States in the new year:
Hibs called me up at the start of last week with a view to signing until January. That worked out perfectly for me because my plan all along was to wait it out until January and go to a club in America. Right now, I’m in advanced talks with a team over there.
A team in MLS? So says the Edinburgh Evening News, which also notes the player's intention to make the move to the USA the last stop of his career:
Eckersley’s intention upon being released by Hearts in May was always to head to America and play out the remainder of his career in the MLS.
Like his younger brother, Eckersley the elder is a product of the Manchester United youth system. He credits former United reserve team coach Rene Meulensteen with broadening his footballing horizons: the Dutchman took Eckersley on loan to Brondby after taking over head coaching duties at the Danish club in the summer of 2006. The loan didn't last long - an injury-stricken six months - but Eckersley found his way back to Denmark in 2008, winning Danish 1st Division titles (the second tier of Danish soccer) with Horsens (2009-10) and AGF Aarhus (2010-11).
For the 2014-15 season, Eckersley returned to Britain, joining Edinburgh's Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Championship. He was a regular starter in the club's promotion-bound season, but was not offered a new contract as the team prepared for top-flight Scottish football.
Hibernian is Hearts' cross-city rival. Eckersley's contribution to the rivalry includes a head-butt directed at a Hibs player in April - a sort of parting gift from the full back, who already knew he wouldn't be playing for Hearts in 2015-16.
Eckersley denied rumors that he was set to cross Edinburgh's soccer divide back in June. Times change: the player describes Hibs' willingness to offer him a short-term contract as "ideal". He has had two knee surgeries since leaving Hearts, so it can be assumed the chance to regain fitness and form is his priority at the moment.
And where might he be heading in January? Well, "an American club" does not necessarily signify MLS. There are several NASL teams that have successfully landed higher profile players than Adam Eckersley, for example. RBNY is one of the less likely destinations, for no better reason than the current squad already has three starting-quality left backs on its roster. Some reduction of the personnel at that position is expected in the off-season, not reinforcements.
Any thought about the club Eckersley might be talking to should probably start by considering his connection with Rene Meulensteen - the man he credits with getting him to realize he could pursue a career outside England.
Meulensteen had a six-month association with Philadelphia Union that ended in May of this year. Eckersley, who was officially released by Hearts in May, told the Edinburgh Evening News he did not sign with another team immediately after leaving the Jambos because he "wanted to see where this American thing was going."
Hmmm. Eckersley could be talking to any club in the USA - in any league - and it does not appear as though any deal has been finalized (though it is clearly close enough to a conclusion that the player feels he can talk about it). But Hearts told him to seek new employment in April. Meulensteen did not stop consulting for the Union until May.
If Eckersley has been talking to a MLS team since he started planning his next move after Hearts, one might start with the idea that it is Philadelphia he's been talking to, at the recommendation of a man who knows him pretty well and has put faith in his ability before - and wait to see if the rumor mill throws up any reasons to stop believing in that hypothesis.