Kaleem hopes Roughnecks move opens doors to MLS [Dawn]

Kaleem hopes Roughnecks move opens doors to MLS [Dawn]

by Umaid Wasim

KARACHI: Despite his ill-fated stint at Sacramento Republic last season, Kaleemullah hopes his switch to fellow United Soccer League (USL) side Tulsa Roughnecks will reignite his hopes of a “dream move” to a Major League Soccer (MLS) side.

The Pakistan international striker failed to show his goal-scoring prowess at Sacramento last season with sporadic appearances from the bench hindering his chances.

But he believes he will be given ample playing time at Oklahoma-based Roughnecks and will be able to show his mettle.

“I really couldn’t settle in California [with Sacramento],” Kaleem told Dawn from Chaman on Thursday, after his switch to Roughnecks was announced by the club late on Wednesday night.

“I’ve spoken with the Roughnecks coach [David Irving] and he’s promised me that I’ll be given proper opportunities.”

After his move to Sacramento last year, Kaleem hoped his performances will grant him a dream move to a team in the MLS.

The MLS is America’s top-tier league, ahead of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the USL and has a plethora of top European players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa playing in it.

“I had offers from a few MLS sides last season for a try-out but I want to prove myself in the USL to earn that move,” Kaleem said. “I’ve big ambitions of playing in the MLS and I’m working hard towards that.

“Playing for an MLS side and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gerrard and Pirlo would be a dream come true.”

The striker, who rose to prominence with Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) giants Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), was thankful to his agent for arranging his move.

“I’m extremely thankful to my agent Adel Saad [of sports management company Kora Stars] for arranging my transfer to the US, first with Sacramento and now with the Roughnecks,” Kaleem said.

“I’ve been given the Number 10 shirt which means I’ve huge responsibility to repay the faith that has been entrusted in me to lead the team forward.”

Following his goal-scoring exploits for KRL where he won four PPFL titles as well as taking them to the final of the AFC President’s Cup, Kaleem earned a move to Kyrgyz giants Dordoi Bishkek where he won another domestic league title.

He failed to replicate his prowess in front of goal for Sacramento where he failed to score a single goal but he’s looking forward to finding his scoring boots again for the Roughnecks.

“I’m really motivated and looking forward for the next season [which begins from March],” Kaleem said. “I’m glad that Roughnecks have come in for me and offered me a chance to restore my reputation as a top striker.”

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2015