With any luck, Nana Attakora will have a new team to play for by the end of the week.
The Canadian defender, who turns 23 next Tuesday, spent the last half of the 2011 Major League Soccer season with the San Jose Earthquakes following a summer trade from Toronto FC.
He is currently out of contract with the Earthquakes, but San Jose still retains his rights as per MLS’ collective bargaining agreement — unlike other North American sports leagues where players often become unrestricted free agents in such situations.
The native of North York, Ont., recently trained and had trials with FC Union Berlin of the German second division and Scottish Premier Leaguer outfit Hibernian. He was offered a six-month contract by Berlin, but he turned it down, a decision that has left his pro career in limbo.
With MLS two weeks into its current season, the Canadian hopes the Earthquakes will soon trade his rights so that he can continue his club career in the league.
“San Jose is very frustrating,” Attakora told sportsnet.ca Tuesday evening.
“When I was in Europe I was trying to get them to trade (my rights) to one of two MLS teams. They said they were willing to do it but then they asked for too much. They just wanted too much and no team was willing to do it, especially as they had no guarantees that I would re-sign with them because of my contract situation.”
Attakora claims San Jose has since had a change of heart and is actively trying to ship his rights to another MLS team.
“It’s basically come down to a point over the last three or four weeks where they finally realized no team is going to give them what they’re asking for, so they’re agreeing to do what they said. I’m expecting something to be done within the next two or three days,” Attakora said.
The Earthquakes made him a contract offer in January, but he turned it down. Asked why, the Canadian declined to give any specifics, only that he didn’t see his long-term future in San Jose.
“I don’t want to put myself into a situation where I won’t be happy in a year or two,” Attakora stated. “I’m looking to make a smart decision and go somewhere I’ll be happy for a few years. … I have to consider my family and it has to work out for everybody, my career, my family. San Jose just isn’t the place for me.”
He also bears no grudge against Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop, a fellow Canadian, whom he says he greatly respects. But the Canadian defender has been left frustrated by the entire situation in San Jose.
“Hopefully Frank Yallop and (general manager) John Doyle can stop being difficult and get something done,” Attakora said.
Attakora was one of TFC’s brightest prospects before experiencing personal issues in 2011 that saw him plummet down the club’s depth chart. Eventually he asked to be traded, although life wasn’t much better in San Jose, where he battled injury problems and played in only six games.
He was left unprotected by San Jose in last November’s expansion draft, but the Montreal Impact took a pass on him.
As far as exploring his options in Europe, the Canadian feels he would benefit from playing in MLS for one or two more seasons before possibly moving abroad on a full-time basis.
“It’s not just good enough to just be in Europe; you need to be at a place where you can develop and I can do that in MLS,” Attakora said.
On Tuesday, Attakora was named to Canada’s 20-man roster for the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament that runs from March 22 to April 2.