After trying to land with Sunderland and Coventry City and turning down several trials with other top English clubs, midfielder Kerry Zavagnin has signed a long-term deal to return to Major League Soccer and the Kansas City Wizards as was announced on Wednesday.
"I'm excited to be back with a group of guys and an organization that would have been hard to leave." Zavagnin said Wednesday from California, where he is training with the U.S. national team endeavoring to add to his 10 caps.
Zavagnin said he felt he owed it to himself to take a chance in Europe and revealed that his agent and the Coventry manager had agreed in principle on a preliminary contract before the club chairman looked down upon the deal because of Zavagnin's lack of experience in English soccer.
"Going back and forth between the coach and my agent, I probably could have carried this on another week and been successful in getting an opportunity over there," the five-year Wizards veteran said. "But I realized that I needed to start playing.
"I'm content knowing that I have the ability to play over there. That was one of the questions I needed answered."
A native of Plymouth, Mich., Zavagnin has helped the Wizards reach three cup finals in the last five seasons, including two in 2004. Zavagnin played a major role in the side that captured the 2004 U.S. Open Cup title and won the Western Conference for a chance to play in MLS Cup 2004, which the Wizards lost 3-1 to D.C. United. He was also a member of the Wizards team that won the club's only MLS Cup title in 2000.
"While some people may view it in the regard that it didn't work out, I'm looking at it from the perspective that I had the opportunity to try it. Coming back to play in Kansas City, I don't think, is a lesser decision. I've had a lot of positive moments here, and I've grown as a player and as a person in Kansas City," said Zavagnin.
"Coming back to Kansas City, I still feel that I can achieve the goals I have for myself while being content in the long term that I gave it a shot."
Likewise, Wizards' General Manager Curt Johnson expressed his pleasure in securing the 30-year-old midfielder's services.
"Clearly Kerry's return solidifies our midfield both in terms of talent and experience," said Johnson. "He has played a significant role in our biggest moments as an organization and we will need his efforts as we look toward another memorable season in 2005. His return is a huge plus for our team."
Zavagnin will be released by U.S. national team manager Bruce Arena on Sunday to play for the Wizards in their CONCACAF Champions' Cup first leg match against Deportivo Saprissa of Costa Rica at Arrowhead Stadium next Wednesday.
"I plan on playing in both games," Zavagnin said, with the second leg of the quarterfinal series to be played in Costa Rica on March 16. In between the matches, he will return to the U.S. camp.
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.