Postcard from Europe: Rolfe focused as free agency looms
AMSTERDAM — Even if Aalborg attacker Chris Rolfe wasn't in the final year of his contract, he'd be facing the resumption of the Danish Superliga with all sorts of variables in play.
According to the former Chicago Fire attacker, that's just how it goes in Denmark, where the soccer hibernates from December to March to hide from the Scandinavian winter. Sometimes, that extended break can be a real bear.
"It's pretty strange," Rolfe told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Aalborg. "We go a few months without games and so many things can happen. You can pick up players, change coaches, players pick up injuries, recover from injuries."
Sometimes, however, it works out well. Aalborg went into this break with two straight losses, but have emerged from the slumber with a last-gasp equalizer at champs FC Copenhagen and a shutout victory over Lyngby.
Rolfe picked up an ankle knock in the former match and was held out of the latter. He's expected back this weekend HB Køge, but his offered theme of re-entering the unknown for the final 14 games stands true.
"Anyone can turn it around in the second half," he said. "I think it's kinda hard to even judge what you're going to be up against until you get to see the teams play a couple of games."
And now that they have their first matches under their belt, Rolfe believes the club can accomplish their primary goal, which is to avoid the relegation scrapes suffered last season.
"I still think we have some areas we can definitely improve on, but we've put ourselves in a decent position going into the second half of the season," he said.
"It's so tight that we can't focus on more than the cliché – it's one game at a time and make sure we're picking up points. What we really don't want to do is lose a couple and find ourselves in a position like last year."
Of course, on top of all that, Rolfe’s contract with AaB is set to expire at year's end. Being an impending free agent — much less one that has gained enough of a big-play rep in Denmark for Brøndby to call up asking the price in January — piles on the variables to ponder.
"All of that will be figured out in the next few months," said Rolfe. "I've got interest from clubs here in Denmark, including Aalborg. Once the summer hits, hopefully there will be some other interest."
The 29-year-old Ohio native says he isn't leaning toward any particular direction as of yet, and he isn't cutting off options.
"I don't really have a plan," he admitted. "It's more about the opportunities that come up and evaluating them. I'm up for anything, really. I wouldn't rule out MLS at all."
That said, when he finishes weighing the variables, the right winger says Aalborg may well hold the reins on his fate after all. Rolfe has yet to play in either of UEFA's showcase tournaments and he'd be more than happy to finally reach the dance in AaB colors.
"That's very important to me," he said. “That was one of the main goals when I came over here: to be with a club that had a chance to play in one of the European [cups]. If we were able to earn a Europa League berth, that is certainly something that could convince me to stay."