Could Brockie’s MLS loan be the start of something good?

Michael Orr Roar Rookie

By Michael Orr, Michael Orr is a Roar Rookie

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16 Have your say

    Why are there not more transfers between Major League Soccer and Australia’s A-League? That question has reverberated across the Pacific Ocean in recent years, as the two leagues have increasingly been compared in favourable terms.

    The starting point is always the relative youth of the current iteration of top flight football in each country and is quickly followed by common language and mostly non-overlapping schedules.

    On the face it seems obvious – there should be more interaction between MLS and the A-League.

    Enter Jeremy Brockie, the 25-year old New Zealand international with 34 caps and nearly 100 appearances in the A-League dating to the inaugural season of 2005/06.

    He scored in the 2008 Olympics and was a substitute at South Africa 2010. Last season, Brockie finished second in the A-League’s golden boot, scoring 16 times in 25 Wellington Phoenix matches.

    A versatile and dangerous attacker, Brockie will join Toronto FC on loan by mid-May and spend the summer in MLS.

    New Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen, who captained the All Whites throughout Brockie’s international career, facilitated the deal, said Phoenix General Manager David Dome:

    “We trusted Ryan from the outset, and of course he knows the player very well – so he knows exactly what he’s getting.

    “We know that TFC has great facilities and of course the MLS is a well-respected competition so we knew we could rely on Jeremy being looked after well.”

    While at least a dozen players have spent time in each league in the eight years since the A-League’s founding, Brockie’s short-term move will be just the second loan.

    In 2008, Fred returned to the A-League during the MLS offseason but he played just three times for Wellington before a family emergency cut short his loan. Fred had already been a star at Melbourne Victory prior to his Phoenix loan, so the comparison is not exactly fair.

    If observers believe clubs in each league could benefit from further interaction, why are such moves relatively rare?

    “Strategically we have been keen on a relationship with an MLS team and while we’ve made a few tentative approaches, nothing has come of it,” Dome said. “Without the personal link, these are often difficult.”

    Wellington now has that connection in Nelsen, who, despite never playing for the Phoenix or even in the A-League, is a legend in his home country.

    Nelsen has also used his connections across the Atlantic to acquire Hogan Ephraim on loan from Queens Park Rangers.

    Dome was appointed General Manager in Wellington in 2007. Over the past six seasons, he has brought Tony Lochhead, Simon Elliott, Michael Boxall and Ian Hogg into the club directly from MLS and gave Alex Smith his first real opportunity after a brief time at Gold Coast United in 2011.

    The Phoenix have taken advantage of the head start MLS enjoys in facilities, stature and quality of play – a combination they hope benefit Brockie and the club.

    “I would say that it makes a lot of sense for the two clubs to do more business like this in the future if there is a chance,” Dome added.

    “From here, it may start off by being simply an exchange of ideas. I can’t see any reason why there couldn’t be more interaction.”

    At the moment, the Phoenix do not have a manager, having parted ways with Ricki Herbert, who is the All Whites manager and the only coach at Wellington to this point.

    No other player movement with Toronto will take place until a new manager is secured.

    The circumstances in Wellington, now that Nelsen is in charge at Toronto, make a compelling case for interactivity on a new level between the two leagues.

    For example, Dome indicated the Phoenix have invested heavily in sports science and could be willing to share that expertise with Toronto as the relationship progresses.

    Yet there are few other instances of close ties between A-League and MLS clubs.

    Portland Timbers technical director Gavin Wilkinson played for Perth Glory, a club now in the A-League, and has brought New Zealanders to the Timbers in the past.

    Wilkinson keeps tabs on the A-League and has sought players like Marcos Flores and Kosta Barbarouses in recent years, though only Hogg and Jake Gleeson have made the move to Portland directly from Oceania, and neither was in the A-League at the time.

    Brockie’s loan to Toronto seems like a good first step in a developing relationship between two clubs that are exactly the same age. Surely other clubs will watch closely to see how Brockie fares as they consider potential moves.

    Perhaps, then, the question at the outset should be, why are there not more loans between MLS and the A-League?

    After all, Dome cannot be alone in saying, “We’re keen on exposing our players to the best opportunities as long as it’s safe, positive for the player and ultimately is going to improve them as a footballer.”

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • May 10th 2013 @ 6:21am
      prizby said | May 10th 2013 @ 6:21am | ! Report

      Why are there not more transfers between Major League Soccer and Australia’s A-League?

      Because in both leagues, (more so in the A-League than MLS), there is a tight limit on the number of internationals you can have on a roster; you’d want international’s that are committed to a full season.

      • May 10th 2013 @ 1:30pm
        Michael Orr said | May 10th 2013 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

        Agreed, a very good point. The numbers are even more restrictive in the A-League so it certainly explains why most of those who have played in both leagues are Australians or Kiwis who perhaps attended university in the US. Still, MLS clubs get a minimum of eight international spots and can trade to acquire more for a given season. There’s almost always room or a way to find room if the player is of enough interest.

        • May 12th 2013 @ 5:45am
          prizby said | May 12th 2013 @ 5:45am | ! Report

          i think most MLS clubs would be interested in internationals from Australia/New Zealand; would happily take them on loan, but the thought of bringing them in; giving them a month or 2 to adjust and work their way onto the team.

          A lot of players need time to adjust to the league and you do not find too many that just hit the ground running.

          Then you have them only for another 2 months or so, then you send them back and then what? If they have been contributing to the team well, I think most MLS teams would prefer to keep them for at least the playoff push/playoffs; losing a contributing player like that would be hard to replace in mid-August…that is why it wouldn’t work for most MLS teams.

          International roster slots are like a valued commodity; some teams use theirs irresponsibly, others are strategic with them; a middle of the season loan I don’t feel offers much value in return; it would be more of a risk, in my opinion.

    • May 10th 2013 @ 6:40am
      Johnno said | May 10th 2013 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      Only reason I can think off is wages. If you can earn $100,000 to play for Adelaide or $100,000 to play in Houston, you’ll stay in your home country and city Adelaide.

      But Tim Cahill who is at the top echelon of MLS players, has now shown aussies will go there if the money is good, no sweat.
      Better than living in Japan or Korea, and playing in the J-league or K-league. No language barriers, etc.

      • May 11th 2013 @ 8:03am
        Dragon said | May 11th 2013 @ 8:03am | ! Report

        Tim Cahill is not one of MLS’s top players. Maybe one of the most high profile players, but definitely not ‘top echelon’ in terms of talent.

    • Roar Guru

      May 10th 2013 @ 9:28am
      Cameron Kellett said | May 10th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      If he does extremely well in his stint over there, could season 2012/13 have been his last in the A-league?

      • May 10th 2013 @ 1:29pm
        Michael Orr said | May 10th 2013 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

        Certainly possible, though he would have to be very impressive to not return to Wellington at all. We’ll see what kind of playing time he gets. Toronto is off to another difficult start and his loan is so inextricably tied to Nelsen that he (Nelsen) will need to play Brockie to justify it.

    • May 10th 2013 @ 1:13pm
      herb said | May 10th 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

      all loans to a MLS team have to have a right to buy clause in it. so if brockie does well he may not be back in welly.

    • May 10th 2013 @ 1:37pm
      Bondy said | May 10th 2013 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

      Good luck to Brockie and Toronto, that Nelsen’s a journeyman also.

      • May 10th 2013 @ 8:28pm
        Leon said | May 10th 2013 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

        @ Bondy: Nelsen a “journeyman”? If you’re suggesting that Nelsen was only ever good enough to ‘make up the numbers’ throughout his career, you’re woefully ignorant. Credit where it’s due.

        • May 10th 2013 @ 10:12pm
          Bondy said | May 10th 2013 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

          Leon ,

          No, I think Ryan actually did quite well for himself as a NZ footballer I watched him at Rovers and for he’s NTeam at the WC. He’s played football on four continents, if he’s toured Asia playing a game that’s five.

      • May 11th 2013 @ 5:59am
        Tony said | May 11th 2013 @ 5:59am | ! Report

        Nelsen’s had more success, and a far longer career in the Premier League than any Socceroo-Centre-Back going around.

        He was made captain at Blackburn just months after arriving from captaining DC to the MLS title, and stayed at Blackburn for 8 years.

        He was then head-hunted by Harry Redknapp for Spurs, hardly a journey man!

        • May 11th 2013 @ 9:03am
          Bondy said | May 11th 2013 @ 9:03am | ! Report


          I might just clarify my word journeyman appears to be misunderstood, I’m not suggesting Ryan struggled for recognition and flopped from club to club never really make it, not at all.

          I took ” journeyman” as he’d travelled to far and distant nations from a tiny little Island, NZ.

          And he’ll probably Manage he’s nation at some stage.

          • May 13th 2013 @ 8:01pm
            Registrado said | May 13th 2013 @ 8:01pm | ! Report

            NZ is an island, yes; is it “tiny”? No. Some advice, whether welcome or not; the words you use should be those that others can understand and agree with, my friend.

          • May 14th 2013 @ 12:15pm
            Tony said | May 14th 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

            …there’s two main Islands in NZ Bondy and together they have a larger landmass then the entire United Kingdom…not entirely “tiny”….and if 4.5 million people is a “tiny” population than so too is Ireland’s, Norway’s, Uruguay’s….the list goes on.

            Still, you’re right about Nelsen coaching NZ one day…. dear old Ricki Herbert has run out of ideas.

            • May 15th 2013 @ 10:16am
              Registrado said | May 15th 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report


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