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Collegians head to Europe
by Paul Kennedy, January 31st, 2008 5PM

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MLS isn't the only option for college players. January saw several stars head to Europe for tryouts.  University of California midfielder Andrew Jacobson surprised MLS when the top pick of D.C. United signed with French First Division club Lorient after a short tryout.

Other players in Europe this week for tryouts included Notre Dame's Joseph Lapira, the 2006 Soccer America Player of the Year, and Indiana sophomore Ofori Sarkodie.

Jacobson, an NSCAA/adidas first-team All-American and was a Soccer America second-team MVP, originally drafted by DC United in the second round of the MLS Super Draft.

"Andrew has been one of the best players that we have ever had at Cal," said Cal head coach Kevin Grimes. "The style of play in France fits him perfectly. If FC Lorient gives him a few weeks to get his form at top level speed, he may help them this season, considering his ability to play multiple positions."

This is the second straight year a Cal player signed with a European club. Last year, Steve Purdy signed with Germany's 1860 Munich amateur team.

Lapira's bid to sign with Scottish Premier League Aberdeen appeared to have ended after one game.

He played Thursday for the Dons' reserves in a 1-1 tie with Falkirk's reserves in weather conditions termed "horrendous" by Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood.

Lapira, a native of Louisiana, had helped his stock last year when he was selected to play for the Irish national team. He had a short tryout at Scottish giant Rangers last summer but returned for his senior year at Notre Dame, whose coach, Bobby Clark, is a former Scottish international goalkeeper and Aberdeen player.

Lapira was taken by Toronto FC in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. He fell to the third round because clubs assumed he'd forgo MLS for Europe.

Sarkodie, a member of the 2007 U.S. U-20 World Cup team, spent the week at Norwegian first division club Aalesund and was reportedly headed to tryouts at Cambuur in the Netherlands and Hertha Berlin in Germany after playing for Aalesund Friday in a friendly against Skarbovik.

Late last fall the University of San Francisco's Chris Rodd signed with Norwegian second division club Bryne after being scouted during WCC play.

Another WCC player is headed to Europe. Portland star Alex Elliott is leaving after his junior year to play for Sportfreunde Siegen of the Regionalliga South, Germany's third league. Elliott, a former Canadian U-20, is currently in Germany after signing a two-and-half year contract with his new club.

Also in Europe is Central Florida freshman Matt Luzunaris, who is on trial at Austria's Rapid Vienna.


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