In the week since Chad Ochocinco took the phone call from Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes with an invitation to tryout in Major League Soccer last Tuesday, the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver has turned to the same skill that’s gotten him to six Pro Bowls since he started his 10-year NFL career: a relentless work ethic and training regimen.
The 6’1, 192-pound pro prides himself on his speed and physicality and goes to all lengths to maintain his athletic edge on the football field. So it should come as little surprise that one of the first plans of action for the Miami, Florida resident was to seek out and set up a soccer-intensive workout week in preparation for his arrival in Kansas City.
“Anybody with a soccer ball and boots in the south beach area?” Ochocinco tweeted upon announcement of the news.
Enter the local Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Members of the NASL club, formerly known as Miami FC, were among the first to see Ochocinco suited up on the soccer field last week.
The connection came through former professional player Juan Pablo Galavis, who finished his career with the club, and is close friends with Ochocinco. The two underwent daily training sessions, incorporating as many as three-a-day workouts to accelerate the steep learning curve ahead of his four-day tryout in KC this week.
When asked on Twitter how Ochocinco was shaping up on the field under his coaching, Galavis responded, “Doing great, very focus.”
The first true test came when Ochocinco joined several of the Strikers players for a friendly kickaround at their stadium. Suffice to say, he didn’t disappoint despite going up against the likes of central defender Zach Kirby, a former Los Angeles Galaxy draft pick, and veteran goalkeeper Nic Platter, who’s faced his fair share of players during six season in division two soccer in the U.S.
CLICK HERE to hear Platter talk about the unique training opportunity.
“Extremely nervous about tomorrows trial but anxious to meet the players and compete against some of the worlds best,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
“What an awesome place Kansas City is. Just getting here and it feels like home already, superb hospitality.”
Come Wednesday morning, he’ll be stepping foot on a field none too familiar since his playing days ended as a youth. But by sticking to what he knows best when it comes to professional sports, Ochocinco is trusting his short, but serious practice week will reap rewards.
And if doesn’t, it won’t be for a lack of trying, an all-in attitude which has already impressed one of his newest colleagues.
“Just letting everybody know,” Sporting Kansas City striker Teal Bunbury tweeted Tuesday. “He is dead serious about this tryout and is ready to show what he can do.”
You too can see what he can do. Watch a live stream from day one of his Sporting Kansas City tryout at www.Sporting85.com.