Over the weekend, The Gleaner caught up with former New York Red Bulls' trialist Junior Flemmings in Jamaica. He's training with Tivoli Gardens in the Red Stripe Premier League. He hopes to get a few games in for the club (where he has played without pay for a couple of seasons). It will be short stint: "I will play from now until December," he told the newspaper.
Why only until December? Because he's due back in the USA.
This is encouraging news: he was only recently released from his trial with RBNY, and the suggestion from head coach Jesse Marsch was that team might have another look at Flemmings in 2016. If he's heading back so soon, perhaps he'll be joining a certain MLS club for pre-season training?
Not so much:
I will take up a scholarship in the US. So I am just making sure I continue playing football, stay fit and try to stay injury free.
A scholarship? That sounds like college.
It is college. "New Mexico University" per The Gleaner, which Once A Metro assumes to mean the University of New Mexico.
When Flemmings arrived at RBNY for his trial, it was somewhat surprising because he was understood to have a college commitment already in place. But the word went out that the highly-rated Jamaican youth international favored the idea of turning pro. Now, it would seem, he's decided his original plan was the better one.
Indeed, Flemmings' comments to The Gleaner suggest he never had any intention other than preparing himself for college:
I was overseas doing some training and trying to get accustomed to the climate and the environment, so when I actually go there (university), it won't be nothing new.
Fair enough. A little peculiar given that the academic year traditionally starts in the Fall, and most significant college soccer is played in the build-up to the NCAA College Cup, which is held in December. Heading out to New Mexico at the end of the year cuts him out of a season of college soccer he might, one assumes, otherwise have played.
Also peculiar in light of the fact that his time at RBNY was consistently described as a trial. But everyone is entitled to a change of plan.
Or to not have a change of plan. Every time a player spends time training with a professional team it is a trial of some sort, whether described as such or not. It is entirely possible that Flemmings has always been focused on starting college in January. There are a couple of young Jamaicans in RBNY's squad - perhaps Flemmings was just visiting and doing a bit of training since he was there. The time in training serving the player's purpose of acclimatization, and giving the club a look at one of the top Jamaican prospects of his generation.
Or maybe it's easier to talk about going to college in the winter than discuss the chance to turn pro that didn't quite work out in the summer.
Ultimately, it matters little. A very good young soccer player will be playing soccer somewhere, at some point in time in the future. And if Flemmings is still in contact with RBNY, maybe he will find time to stop by pre-season training camp before getting on with his studies. If he ever plays for the Red Bulls or never plays for the Red Bulls, it is to be hoped he has successful career in the field of his choice.
Best of luck, Junior. Hope to see you again sometime.