Writer: Jorge's Jottings
Date:Thursday December 6 2007
Konopka Lands Walsall Trial
GK returns to England for look by Saddlers
WEST MIDLANDS, UK (December 4, 2007) - Former Jersey Shore Boca Soccer Club standout Chris Konopka wasted little time in his search for new professional employment as he touched-down Sunday morning in Birmingham, England for a three week trial with English Football League One side Walsall FC.
Konopka spent his first year as a professional with the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer who last week, elected not to exercise his contract extension making the 22 year-old keeper free to negotiate with any team with no transfer fee or compensation required when he signs with a new club.
This will be the third time in the past 12 months that Konopka has been invited for a trial with an English Football Association team.
Konopka impressed League Championship side Cardiff City and manager David Jones last December during a week-long visit to Wales with the Bluebirds then extending Konopka an open invitation to return once his Polish citizenship received approval.
The 6`5" 220lb Toms River, New Jersey native also received keen reviews in February when he trialed for 10 days with Charlton Athletic then of the English Premiership under the watchful eye of Addicks manager Alan Pardew who also liked the young keeper during his time spent at The Valley.
"I am very excited to be headed to Walsall. I am very thankful for this opportunity and look forward to three weeks of hard work. I feel I am in very good form and hope to make a good impression with manager Richard Money. They are a very good club with a good football history" Konopka mentioned before he left the United States.
Walsall (24 points) currently sits in 10th place of the Football League One standings with Sawnsea City (31 points) on top of the League One table and will host 3rd place Nottingham Forrest (30 points) Tuesday night at Banks Stadium with Konopka as the Saddlers guest.
The trial was arranged by Konopka`s agent, Patrick McCabe of First Wave Sports Marketing.
Konopka also mentioned before departing for England that he has received interest within the past week from clubs IFK Goteberg and Orebro from Sweden`s Allsveskan and Legia Warszawa from Poland`s Ekstraklasa as well as a few other clubs from England.
"I am exploring all options available to me, even returning to the MLS and will not rule out anything but Walsall will get my undivided attention over the next few weeks. I have also signed all the official Polish government documents and believe it is only now a matter of time before we hear something about my Polish Citizenship" Konopka finished.
Konopka did not see any first team action with Kansas City sitting behind MLS All-Star veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman who played every minute for the Wizards during 2007 but he did see time in several MLS reserve league games as well as all of the Wizard`s pre-season and friendly matches.
Prior to his arrival in Kansas City, Konopka starred between the pipes at Providence College in Rhode Island and finished third all-time in the most games ever played by a Friar goalkeeper.
During his four years as a Friar, he allowed only 57 goals for a 1.17 career GAA, made 199 career saves, had a career save percentage of 77.7% and re-wrote several Providence records along the way.
In his senior year, Konopka garnered All-Big East Second Team accolades becoming only the second goalkeeper in Providence College history to receive All-League honors.
The 2003 Toms River East High School graduate also became the first goalkeeper in Providence College history to ever record a win in the NCAA Tournament (2005 vs. Hofstra) to advance to the second-round and the only keeper in Friar history to lead Providence to 3 Big East Championship Semi-Finals (2003, 2005, 2006).
Konopka became the first player ever from Providence to be drafted by any Major League Soccer team during the league`s 12 year history when the Wizards selected him in the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft.
A long-time Jersey Shore Boca Soccer Club veteran, Konopka was a member of Boca`s youth system, Super Y-League, U20 and U23 teams throughout his career as well as a member of Boca`s Premiere Development League (PDL) team in 2003.
Jersey Shore Boca has been a fixture in the soccer community since 1978 and is one of the oldest and most respected soccer clubs on the East Coast.
The Club will be celebrating their 30-year anniversary in 2008.
For more information on the Jersey Shore Boca Soccer Club, visit the Club`s official web site at www.jerseyshoreboca.com
END OF RELEASE
Date:Thursday December 6 2007
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