As we were preparing for this afternoon's expansion draft, noted soccer journalist Leander Schaerlaeckens broke a potentially big story:
New York City found their third designated player. And it's a surprising choice. Meet Colombia's Javier Calle.
Somewhere out there, there's a soccer highlights video that isn't set to thumping EuroTechno™. Not this one
Calle, 23, is predominantly a central midfielder. A left-footer, he can also play on the right and as an attacking midfielder. He began his career with San Fernando de Guayabal la Raya, before moving to Independiente Medellín's youth system, progressing through the ranks before joining the senior squad in 2009.
From there, Calle has been loaned twice. In 2012, he spent a year with América de Cali, appearing six times and starting three games. In 2013, he was loaned to Jaguares for four months, where he made no appearances. This past season, he's appeared in 11 games total: ten in Liga Postobón II, and once in Liga Postobón I. In the second division, Calle started six games, scoring four goals and assisting twice. He's also had five appearances with the U-20 Colombian national team, assisting once.
Judging from the highlights above, Calle appears to be a pretty decent ball distributor. He plays centrally in most of these highlights, but if Kreis is sticking with his diamond formation, I'd expect him to play on the right. According to every report I've read on him so far, Calle is a fast player, who uses spaces left open by the opposing team to his advantage, filling those spaces and creating plays.
He's gotten a bit of a reputation for delivering pinpoint crosses to his attackers in the box, as well. Finally, he's reputed to have a pretty good work-rate on defense as well, so he could be a solid box-to-box midfielder.
Why Calle? It's no secret that Kreis and Reyna have been scouting South American players heavily as they search for a third designated player. Of all the South American nations, Colombia has stood out markedly in terms of youth- and player-development. Their success with the national team, led by James Rodriguez, is squarely centered around young, technically-skilled players. James himself is only 23 -- the same age as Calle. In fact, they were born about three months apart.
While there's logic in making that third DP an American player, it may be that New York City has decided that the current crop of available or potentially available American players don't quite meet that threshold. One other thing to keep in mind: the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players' union expiring at the end of next month. One of the rumored elements of every bargain is that the number of DP slots will go up, with potentially one reserved for American players.
At any rate, we will keep you posted on any developments on this story.