Can Owen Hargreaves Resurrect His Soccer Career in MLS?
Back in 2007, Owen Hargreaves was living the dream and things were going right for him. In his first seven years with Bayern Munich, Hargreaves had successfully become one of the best Canadian stars of the game. In his time in Germany, he was a contributor of four Bundesliga titles and a Champions League trophy in 2001. His form for England especially in the 2006 World Cup further proved how he had become an elite midfielder. The England international caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson which eventually led to Hargreaves being signed by Manchester United on May 31st, 2007 in a four year deal for £17 million. His first season was a major success as he was a central figure with United who won both the Premier League and the Champions League. The future looked quite bright for the 27 year old.
However, Owen Hargreaves would soon become victim to an interminable struggle with injuries largely related to patellar tendinitis. Though Hargreaves was determined to return, he was constantly hampered with setbacks in rehabilitation and training. Even renowned knee surgeon, Dr. Richard Steadman, who had successfully operated on English footballers like Alan Shearer or Michael Owen, could not end the chronic tendinitis in Hargreaves’ knee. It took Hargreaves over twenty months to make another appearance in the Premier League in May 2010. Hargreaves then missed the start of last year due to injury again but he returned to training within a couple of months. On November 6th, 2010, Owen Hargreaves was selected for his first start in over two years in a match against Wolves. However, his triumphant return was short-lived as he aggravated a hamstring injury and was withdrawn after only five minutes. With that, the tenure of Owen Hargreaves at Manchester United ended as he was unable to return again in the last year of his contract.
After his disappointing time at Old Trafford, the future of Hargreaves is unknown. While he has been linked with Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool, many have speculated that the new free agent would retire. However, there have been intriguing rumors indicating a possible move to MLS.
According to the Daily Mail and other publications, Toronto F.C. and the Vancouver Whitecaps are interested in going after the 30 year old in the hope of resurrecting his career. A major factor in this potential deal is that Owen Hargreaves was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada after his parents had emigrated over from the United Kingdom. Both clubs can offer Hargreaves the opportunity to end his career in his home country.
The rising status of American football may just entice the England star to end his career on a high note in North America. While Hargreaves is linked with English teams, one has to imagine that it would be incredibly difficult for him to receive consistent playing time after injury has sidelined him for nearly three years. While MLS has grown into a highly competitive league, it still needs time to grow for it to be on par with European leagues. Therefore, Hargreaves may see America’s potential to help him ease into and become a top player.
While he is a great injury risk, Toronto and Vancouver clearly see that Hargreaves can greatly impact their squads. He has always been known for his accurate passing, superb pace, and magnificent crosses. While injury may make him rusty, he will still remember the fundamentals of his game that made him an elite midfielder. In addition, his Canadian roots would make him a beloved figure for the fans as he could become the face of a team like Beckham and Henry are for the Galaxy and the Red Bulls respectively.
As a Manchester United fan, it was a bitter shame that Owen Hargreaves couldn’t have had a greater role at the club. He truly showed in his first season at the club that he would have been a sensational talent in the midfield which has been under constant criticism. However, there still may be a lot of football left in Owen Hargreaves which is why a move to MLS is an extremely sensible idea.