Califf departs for Danish league

San Jose Earthquakes defender Danny Califf has ended his six-year stint in Major League Soccer, joining Aalborg BK (AaB) of the Danish Superligaen. AaB club director Lynge Jacobsen announced the signing of Califf at a press conference on Friday.

"Danny is a class player with a first-class attitude," Jacobsen said. "He has all the potential to be a great success in the Danish League."

After five years as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy, Califf joined the Earthquakes prior to the start of the 2005 campaign and went on to have one of his best professional seasons. After anchoring the defense for a San Jose team that only lost four games during the MLS regular season and went undefeated at home to win the MLS Supporters' Shield, Califf was named a finalist for the MLS Defender of the Year. Califf was also a member of the 2005 MLS RadioShack Best XI.

"I am really excited about joining Aalborg," said Califf. "I have had a wonderful six years in MLS, but this is a new chapter in my career. I am looking to go to Europe, make an impression, and enjoy what I expect to be a tremendous experience, both professionally and personally."

U.S. national team head coach Bruce Arena took notice of Califf's defensive prowess, calling the 25-year-old up to take part in the last World Cup qualifying match for the Americans against Panama on Oct. 12. With Califf manning the back line for the full 90 minutes, the U.S recorded a 2-0 win at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Califf has appeared in 13 matches for the U.S. during his career, with one goal to his name.

With good size (6-foot-1, 180 lbs.) and strength, Califf is an imposing figure for any attacker to have to face. The University of Maryland product seemed to add better positioning and an increased ability to read the game to his repertoire in 2005. He also formed strong partnerships with teammates Wade Barrett and Eddie Robinson, the latter also earning a Defender of the Year nomination.

Califf can look to Barrett for some knowledge on the Superligaen. Barrett returned to the Quakes in 2005 after spending the 2003-2004 season with AGF Aarhus in the Danish top flight.

Califf is expected to immediately step into the defensive role that was vacated at AaB after the departure of Canadian international Marco Reda. Midway through the 2005-2006 season, AaB currently sits in fifth place in the Danish league. The club is also taking part in the Royal League, a competition for the top clubs in Scandanavia.

Aalborg, which is located in northern Denmark, is the country's fourth-largest city with a population of 120,000. Founded in 1885, AaB was the first Danish team ever to take part in the UEFA Champions League. The club has won two Danish League titles (1995 and 1999) and took part in the UEFA Cup in 2004-2005. The club is coached by Swede Erik Hamren.

American international Heath Pearce also plies his trade in Denmark as a member of FC Nordsjælland.

Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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