Canadian Exports: Simpson, Hutchinson thriving
Canadian Exports is a new weekly feature at MLSsoccer.com that takes a look at Canadian players plying their trade in Europe and elsewhere in the soccer world.
In a year when many Canadians are struggling for playing time in Europe and elsewhere, two men continue to play and contribute regularly to their teams’ successes.
Longtime Canadian national teammates Josh Simpson (above) and Atiba Hutchinson lead the way for Canucks looking to make an impact abroad, with both doing so in vastly different ways.
Simpson is having a breakout season for Turkish side Manisaspor, having led the club in scoring for nearly the entire season. Simpson, 27, has taken the Turkish Süper Lig by storm with 11 league goals in 22 games as a left winger, good enough for fifth on the overall scoring charts.
[inline_node:329615]The Vancouver-area native (at right) joined Manisaspor in 2009 after a solid, if unspectacular, career that featured stops at the University of Portland, London side Millwall and FC Kaiserslautern in Germany.
Hutchinson is a far less flashy player than his compatriot, but his impact at PSV Eindhoven is no less important. The Brampton, Ontario, native, also 27 years old, is a smooth, technically sound player known for his versatility.
Like Simpson, he joined his current club after having played at a couple of other teams elsewhere in Europe, although Hutchinson arrived at Eindhoven a much more proven commodity – he won the Danish League’s Player of the Year Award last season while with former club FC Copenhagen.
As expected, Hutchinson stepped into the PSV side immediately, although it wasn’t in his normal midfield spot. Injuries to teammates forced Hutchinson to start the 2010-11 season with his new club as a right back, a position he performed so well that the manager kept him there even after regular starter Stanislav Manolev regained fitness.
When the winter transfer window opened in January, the club sold midfielder Ibrahim Afellay to FC Barcelona, creating an opportunity for Hutchinson to step into his preferred midfield spot. Since then, he has started all but one match in the middle of the park for PSV, quietly quarterbacking a side that sits atop the Eredivisie and is in the Round of 16 of UEFA’s Europa League.
A look at how other Canadians fared abroad this past weekend:
In Germany, Kevin McKenna is battling injuries and sat out his club FC Köln’s 1-0 victory over SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga.
Marcel de Jong played the full match for FC Augsburgs in a 2-1 win over FC Erzgebirge Aue in the 2.Bundesliga. Striker Rob Friend entered the match at the 74th minute for Hertha BSC as the Berlin side routed host Alemannia Aachen 5-0.
Hertha BSC and Augsburg sit first and second in the German second tier, both looking likely to gain promotion to the Bundesliga.
Over in England, 20-year-old David Hoilett sat out with a hamstring injury as his Blackburn Rovers fell 4-1 to Aston Villa.
In the Championship, Iain Hume came back from a lengthy injury spell to play the final 29 minutes for Preston North End in a 2-1 loss to visiting Burnley.
Further to the southeast of the continent, 23-year-old forward Tosaint Ricketts entered the game at minute 71 for his new team Politehnica Timisoara in their 3-1 win over Gaz Metan Medias in the Romanian Liga I.
Finally, national team stalwart Mike Klukowski also caught the injury bug, forcing him to miss MKE Ankaragücü’s 4-2 home loss to Gençlerbirligi SK in the Turkish Süper Lig.
Make sure to download the latest episode of ExtraTime Radio, featuring Columbus Crew defender Andy Iro on the CONCACAF Champions League series and ESPN's Allen Hopkins discussing Shalrie Joseph and his role with the New England Revolution.