Thursday, April 14, 2011
Revs hope Lekic can boost scoring attack
By Brian O'Connell
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Three weeks ago, Danish striker Rajko Lekic stepped onto the Revolution's practice ready to make an impression. It turns out that he made a lasting one.
On Friday, the Revolution announced that they had secured a deal with the former Silkeborg IF (Denmark) goal scorer, with the hope that he can make an even bigger impression on match day.
In the first step of fulfilling that hope, the newest member of the Revs returned to training on Tuesday -- this time as a full-fledged member of the team -- not only carrying the heavy expectations that come along with wearing the number 10 jersey, but also having a clear understanding of what to expect now that he's in MLS.
"I know there (are) many good players in the league (and) many strong players," said Lekic to the media following Tuesday's rain-soaked first practice. "And I feel that the league's getting better and better and that's why I wanted to try it."
And the Revs are certainly glad that the 29-year-old goal artist wanted to give MLS a go. After the club was limited to five goals in its first five games, one thing became abundantly clear to the fans, front office, and players: they needed a goal scorer. Now.
Enter Lekic, who scored a show-stopping 76 goals in 121 games during separate stints (2003-06, 2008-11) with Silkeborg. His penchant for poaching earned him his first cap with Denmark's National Team last year, when he made an appearance against Austria during his country's preparation for the 2010 World Cup.
Although Lekic was under contract with Silkeborg during his trial last month, that hardly deterred Revolution Vice President of Player Personnel Michael Burns from getting his man. While the terms of Lekic’s deal were not disclosed, it is believed that a transfer fee was necessary, which underscores the importance of getting the goal scorer the club had craved for months.
"We have been public in our desire to bring in an attacking player to the club and we believe we’ve added a significant component to our attack with this signing," said Burns via a team press release on Friday. "Rajko has scored goals consistently for all his previous clubs, and we are optimistic he’ll do the same for us during his time in New England."
Revolution supporters certainly hope the same. In the wake of Taylor Twellman's retirement last December, one question on the minds of many supporters was how the Revs would find a way to replace a player who amassed 101 goals during his nine-year career.
Lekic is certainly eager to answer to that question. But, the 6-1 striker acknowledges that before he can prove himself, he'll need some time to get acclimated to the Eastern Time Zone after a lengthy trans-Atlantic flight.
"I don't know how long (it'll take), maybe a week or two," said Lekic. "It's a long trip and there's a time difference of six hours or something. I think for the next two or three days, I'll need to get a good sleep and rest."
In addition to getting his sleeping patterns straightened out, he'll need to have another thing ready before he hits the pitch for match day: his International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Typically, the process for an international player to acquire an ITC is accomplished within days. But, whether Lekic attains his ITC prior to Sunday's match in Houston remains up in the air for now.
Nevertheless, the dangerous Dane is unequivocal in his objective here in New England.
"I would like to score many goals here," said Lekic. "I'm just going to need some chances to score goals. We need to create chances to score goals and hopefully we'll get them."
Brian O'Connell is covering the Revolution for ESPNBoston.com. He is the co-founder of New England Soccer Today (www.nesoccertoday.com), which covers professional soccer within New England. He can be reached at BOConnell21@aol.com.