SAN JOSE, Calif. – When asked about the new face going by “Tommy” in San Jose Earthquakes training last week, coach Frank Yallop said it was “a secret.”
The secret’s out: San Jose’s mystery man is none other than Thomas Hitzlsperger (above, right), the midfielder with 52 international caps for Germany and a former mainstay at Aston Villa and VfB Stuttgart.
Quakes fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too high, however; Yallop said Tuesday that Hitzlsperger is only training with the team at this point, no more. And the 30-year-old, most recently of VfL Wolfsburg, told MLSsoccer.com that he’s heading back to Europe next week in search of a new home for the 2012-13 season.
“It’s going pretty good,” Hitzlsperger said. “I’ve really enjoyed it. The guys are really good, and it’s easy to settle in. They’re good quality.”
Hitzlsperger is hoping to land back in England, where he first rose to prominence after coming of age in the Bayern Munich junior program, but he said his mind had been opened to the possibility of coming to America.
“I want to play a few more years, but I haven’t made my mind up [where],” Hitzlsperger. “This has been a good experience for me, so that’s definitely an option. As I said, I’ve really enjoyed it, but I’ve played many years in England and enjoyed it there.”
Hitzlsperger dropped in on the Quakes because he was visiting Northern California and wanted to continue building his fitness after his three-year contract was terminated, with two seasons remaining, by Wolfsburg in May.
The Quakes technically could make a run at Hitzlsperger, since he’s out of contract and therefore not subject to the already closed transfer window. It seems much more likely, if there is any match to be made, that it would be for the 2013 season. That would follow the same path set by Sercan Güvenisik, the Turkish-German forward who trained with the Quakes in 2011 before eventually signing with the club in January.
Geoff Lepper covers the Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.