Khano Smith takes the long road back to Revs
The reunion between New England midfielder Khano Smith and
his former and current employers started with a casual conversation and an
“I just came and trained,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday.
“Shalrie [Joseph] said to Stevie [Nicol], 'Khano's here.' He said, 'well, why
don't you just tell him to come to training.' So I came for training and it
went from there.”
Returning to New England to keep in shape wasn't in Smith's
plan when he left the Revolution in November 2008, but the Bermudan
international found himself without a gig after a whirlwind year saw him join
three different clubs in two countries.
The journey started when Seattle selected Smith in its
expansion draft. Smith didn't play a game for Sounders FC in 2009 before the
club shipped him to New York. Six months later, following a few substandard
performances and one unhappy spell under former Red Bulls head coach Juan
Carlos Osorio, Smith found himself out of a job.
With his MLS options extinguished for the moment, Smith
opted to try his luck abroad and landed at English League Two side Lincoln City
on a short-term deal. The move didn't suit Smith, who struggled to adjust to
the direct style employed by Lincoln manager Chris Sutton. He had a hard time coping
with the rigors of starting a new life away from his adopted American homeland.
“A lot of people say a lot of things about American soccer,
but over there, they don't -- or at least we didn't -- attempt to pass the ball,”
Smith said. “I had to look for quick runs from forwards. They can say what they
want about American soccer, but at least we try and play.”
After Lincoln didn't extend his deal and Brentford didn't
offer him a contract after a brief trial spell, Smith decided to head back to
Boston to assess his options.
When Smith joined the Revolution, he had no offer on the
table and no promise that one would arrive. As he trained with the Revs, his
agent scoured for other offers and assessed the possibility of a deal in second
It turns out that Smith didn't need to go anywhere. Once New
England decided to release Gabriel Badilla prior to the roster compliance
deadline, the Revolution had an open roster spot and a former midfielder more
than willing to sign a reasonable deal to fill it.
Nicol said he decided to make the informal relationship
permanent once again because Smith offers tactical flexibility in addition to
the pace he has always shown.
“He gives us an option to play five in the middle,” Nicol
said. “That's really what it is. Until we got Khano back, I didn't think we had
the personnel to play with five across the middle. I feel we now have that