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Ngwenya return to Houston hits snag
by Ridge Mahoney, April 21st, 2010 1:14AM

TAGS:  houston dynamo, mls


[MLS] For the second time in a year, either a pending acquisition by the Houston Dynamo has hit a bureaucratic snag, or a foreign club is trying to gouge some money out of MLS. Attacker Joseph Ngwenya, a member of the Dynamo's 2007 championship team who has been playing overseas, is unable to complete a move to MLS. Turkish club Antalyasapor, for which Ngwenya played last year, has refused to release his international transfer certificate, without which the acquisition cannot be finalized.

“He absolutely won’t take the field as a member of the Houston Dynamo or any other MLS team without an ITC,” said Houston COO Chris Canetti to “The ITC needs to be issued. Given the fact the club won’t issue it, our hope is that FIFA will issue it after they review the circumstances. We believe Joe has the right to continue his career and play for the Dynamo, and that his ITC should be granted, and we just have to wait for FIFA’s ruling.”

Neither Houston nor MLS has clarified if Ngwenya is a free agent. Last year, Czech club SIAD Most, which believed it still held rights to Canadian defender Andrew Hainault, refused to release his ITC after the league approved his acquisition as a free agent. MLS petitioned FIFA to research the case through its Dispute Resolution Chamber, but the league and SIAD Most resolved the issue before it could be formally reviewed. Whether that means MLS came up with a token payment, as is sometimes the method of resolution, isn’t known.

“We know what kind of a player Joseph is and how he can help us,” said Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear when a possible move for Ngwenya first came to light. He and MLS agreed to a salary last week. “He’s a proven player in this league and guys like that are always worth getting.”

Houston has tried several times to get back Ngwenya, who turned down an approach from the league last year. After leaving MLS, he played briefly in Austria and went on trial with Bayern Munich before signing with Antalyasapor in the summer of 2008.

A hamstring injury to Brian Ching accelerated Houston’s search for attacking help. Ngwenya arrived in early April to train with the team; though the domestic transfer window closed April 15, his move would be permitted either on the grounds that he is a free agent, or Antalyasapor held up a bonafide deal for a player under contract that should have been completed before the deadline. Transfer windows only apply to players under contract; free agents are not subject to its restrictions.

“We have gone through the appropriate channels with the league, U.S. Soccer Federation, and FIFA to dispute the situation,” Canetti said. “We are going to look to them to provide a quick and reasonable resolution that will hopefully end up in our and Joe’s favor.”

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