Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Where's Charlie Campbell Now? Part 1

As enticing as it might seem to stay with a successful club like Orlando City (OC), especially with their aspirations for joining Major League Soccer very soon, you can’t blame a player for wanting to take a shot at getting his feet wet across the pond in Europe. That is just what former Lions midfielder Charlie Campbell has done. Fans might remember the short, stout midfielder who terrorized other USLPro clubs in his winger role while wearing the Orlando City purple. He wore the number 23 and seemingly never any shin guards. Coming from the University of Louisville, he always provided a spark when entering the game, whether from the first whistle or after the 60th minute. 

Although he was offered a new contract by OC for 2013, he had already lined up two trials in Europe. Copenhagen was one option, but Ljungskile, Sweden, was his first (and last) stop. It was no coincidence Campbell had arrived in this southern town, though. 

It all started with someone you might have seen in that nail-biting Portland Timbers v. New York Red Bulls match this past weekend. He started at right back and had a solid 72 minutes before subbing off for winger Sal Zizzo. His name is Ryan Miller, a former Notre Dame defender who played for Ljungskile SK in 2009. Before moving on to fellow Swedish club Halmstads, he was able to form a quality relationship with his former club. This led to the club asking Miller for his recommendation of other American players he thought would fit the Ljungskile system. 

Michael Thomas was the first name that came up. After two years with the Swedish club, he made a move back across the Atlantic to sign with MLS club, and Orlando City affiliate, Sporting Kansas City. In 2012, Ljungskile inquired of Miller again if he had more recommendations for his fellow United States boys. That is when the former Orlando City midfielder Charlie Campbell up. An offer was made, but since Campbell was still under contract with the Lions at that time, he declined. 

This made possible the opportunity for Patrick Hopkins to make the move to Sweden. The former DePaul University defender played two years semi-pro in Australia before his move, having not received any offers from American clubs straight out of college. In his first season last year, the physical centerback was named vice captain. With a new coach last year, Hopkins was named captain of the squad this season. 

So where is the former Orlando City midfielder, Charlie Campbell, you might still be asking? After recommendations by both Hopkins and Miller to the Ljungskile SK sporting director, the former Lion arrived at the Swedish Superettan (2nd Division) club. Seeing immediately that his skills connected with the club’s current playing style, the Ljungskile director offered Campbell a contract. He joined his childhood friend Patrick Hopkins and has already gone up against the big dogs of IF Elfsborg, reigning champions of Sweden’s Allsvenskan (1st division). 

How do you think Mr. Campbell will do in his new home in the Swedish second division? Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment below. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this exclusive piece on the former Orlando City midfielder! 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Charlie Campbell


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