Agudelo: Time to step up. - USA TODAY Sports
His contract is up soon, but Agudelo's got unfinished business in MLS first.
Juan Agudelo, this is your year.
You may be 20 years old, which is still pretty young, and you presumably have a long career ahead of you. But you have work to do if you want to get that big deal in Europe. Sure, you can bag it until your contract is up, but you are basically on a contract year, and the best way to get paid and get to a good team abroad is if you own MLS this season.
Obviously, there have been factors that have prevented you from really breaking out. After signing with the New York Red Bulls, you were buried on the depth chart and you were playing for a coach who really seemed afraid of American players. In both New York and with Chivas USA, you've been slowed by injuries. Plus, Chivas was barely better than the worst-ever offense in league history last year, and the forwards seldom got any kind of service. And Robin Fraser liked playing you out of position for some reason.
So there are multiple reasons why you have only scored nine goals in 53 MLS regular season appearances. But this is your year. You need to push to double that career total this season. With a double-digit goal season, your stock will certainly rise, and that move will be closer than ever.
Believe it or not, you are probably going to be the go-to guy among the forwards, and you'll have more MLS experience than any of your teammates up front. Step up to the challenge. If you want to compete on a Champions League team in Europe, you're going to have to step up a lot more, so get the start with Chivas now. Know that defenses will focus on you, because you are the big name on the team, and there will be times when you'll have to play a decoy. But don't get too comfortable in that position. Battle for every ball. Finish your runs, even when they are going nowhere. Your effort will pay off and your teammates will feed off your workrate.
Work on developing your all-around game this season, too. You posted a career high in assists last season, and you can build on that as well, setting up your teammates when you can't get the chance yourself. Work on your aerial game, on your dribbling, and especially on your finishing. Again, the more work you put in now, the better off you'll be when you make the next step up.
A lot of people don't think you are ready to leave MLS. This is your chance to show them they are wrong. Remember, this is your year - take advantage of the opportunity.
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