[MLS] A year and a half ago, a pair of English League veterans came to America to test the MLS waters. Both of them were subject to the discovery process, and both had been “claimed” by Toronto FC. Yet neither wound up wearing the red and white: Darren Huckerby politely excused himself and flew on to the West Coast, where he found a job with San Jose after the Quakes worked a deal to obtain his rights; Paul Dickov toured the city but eventually headed back to England and signed with Leicester City.
Huckerby retired last season after injuries forced him off the field, and Dickov came back to the USA this week for another stint in Florida with TFC, which sent him out for extended minutes Wednesday in a 0-0 preseason friendly with D.C. United. Leicester released him Feb. 1, and Leeds United would like to sign him, but may not be able to.
"I know Mo Johnston and have been over here with Toronto FC before and was impressed with what I saw," Dickov told Toronto FC TV last weekend after joining up with the team in Florida. "The last time I came here I was very close to signing, but decided at the time it was best to stay in the Championship in England. Obviously there is now a new manager [Preki] so I have come out here for a few days to join in training and hopefully we can sort something out.
"The big thing for me now is that I feel fit. I wasn't fit properly for the last year or so but I have had an operation on my back and now I feel as fit as I have done in the last six or seven years."
He scored two goals in 16 matches for Derby County (League Championship) on loan from Leicester. While TFC might reluctant to sign him because of his age (37), a FIFA rule that prohibits a player from playing for more than two teams in the same league season is blocking his move to Leeds. Before coming to the USA, he trained with Leeds United (Division One) and did enough to impress Manager Simon Grayson, who is seeking clarification from FIFA and UEFA.
U.S. internationals Jozy Altidore, Freddy Adu and Eddie Johnson have run into similar difficulties when their loan deals have been discussed. A further complication is FIFA permits a player to be registered for three different teams in the same season, but can only play for two of them unless the seasons overlap.
Since he’s been released by Leicester and is out of contract, he is not subject to the closing of the international transfer window Feb. 1. As precedent, Leeds is using the case of Nicky Shorey, who played on loan with Nottingham Forest while under contract to Aston Villa, which has since loaned him to Fulham. The English FA classified the nine-match move to Nottingham Forest as an emergency loan, a stance that FIFA has questioned and is investigating while Shorey plays for Fulham.
Dickov is scheduled to return to England at the end of this week as Leeds seeks resolution in his case.