Nathan Sturgis’ career in MLS so far has been more of a 12-month rotational; the eighth-year pro is about to play for his sixth team in six years.
But he hopes he’s found a more permanent home, once and for all.
The former 12th overall pick of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft was acquired by the Colorado Rapids along with allocation money in late December for striker Omar Cummings, marking the fourth straight year in which Sturgis will be starting a season in a different uniform. But the versatile midfielder, who can play along the back four as well, believes he may have found a place where he might be able to establish himself on a long-term basis.
“It seems anytime a team doesn’t do well, there’s usually turnover that follows, and obviously everybody’s going to be fighting for a spot,” Sturgis told MLSsoccer.com by phone this week. “With new guys coming in, there’ll be lots of guys fighting for spots. It just means that you have to come in and play well, and if you play well, you’ll hopefully find a spot on the field.”
Sturgis has accumulated 80 career MLS appearances (66 starts) since his 2006 debut, but maintaining consistent playing time has been a problem for the Florida native in recent years, managing just 19 combined league appearances the last two seasons, including just five a year ago under Dominic Kinnear in Houston. But Sturgis is hopeful that his willingness to play nearly anywhere will net him more playing time in 2013 – although he does hope to eventually zero in on a specific spot on the field.
“I think I would prefer to fight for a spot, try to fight for a spot in midfield or wherever,” said Sturgis, who said his preferred position is central midfield. “I’ll get on the field whatever way possible, so I’m certainly open to play wherever as long as it gets me on the field. But I think I want a chance to fight for a consistent spot in one position.”
The most likely position for Sturgis to earn playing time – at least on paper – is central defense, where he is currently sloted to serve as Drew Moor and new pickup Diego Calderón’s top deputy. But Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made few bones in his first season in charge that he’s unafraid to give chances to nearly his entire roster, and it’s an opportunity that Sturgis appears to see with his new team.
Meanwhile, the Rapids have spent the majority of their offseason carefully constructing a roster better suited to fit Pareja’s 4-3-3, and perhaps Colorado asked for Sturgis in return due to his recent experience playing in a 4-3-3 in Toronto and Houston. But no matter the system or position he might play, the 25-year-old is ready to settle down after a long, winding road through MLS.
“Moving’s not always a fun thing but it’s part of the game, and for me it’s definitely part of the game,” Sturgis said. “You just have to take it for what it is, pick up and move and just try to make the best of it.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.