Former NFL star and soccer fan Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson was again linked with Sporting Kansas City. In 2011 he was brought in for a quick "trial" by Sporting KC.
Ochocinco as he was known at the time was known to be a fan of the beautiful game and during the NFL lockout some tweets were traded and before you knew what happened, Sporting KC extended an offer to come in on trial.
It was a bit (big understatement) of a media circus.
This was the first time an ESPN crew ran alongside a player at SKC's practice and they even had the guy with the boom mike over top of him in case he said something profound while getting a drink. And of course ESPN needed close-ups of his shoes. Maybe they were trying to figure out the difference between football shoes and football shoes.
How did it end? Ochocinco was kept around long enough to play a scrimmage versus the PDL Kansas City Brass (really a thrown together team of college players and some indoor guys) but was not offered a contract. He had great athletic ability but no real skill when compared to people who played all of their life. Even the Sporting KC Academy players that were given a chance to play in that match outplayed the NFL star by a large margin.
So in the end, Sporting KC got a ton of free publicity, the sport was seen by a lot of sports fans that would not have normally paid any attention, Ochocinco got a dream fantasy camp of living the life a pro soccer player for a week, was made an honorary member and everyone walked away happy.
Fast forward to this week and it was a little déjà vu when Johnson/Ochocinco revealed on ESPN that he thought he could make the team if given another chance. He has been playing in an indoor league and an outdoor league and he has his touch back now.
Sporting Kansas City's USL affiliate the Swope Park Rangers seemed to have an interest.
.@ochocinco Two weeks till our first game, think you can earn one of these ? No. 85 is still available ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/CT9pEiiMII— Swope Park Rangers (@SwopeRangers) March 9, 2016
Former Sporting KC and current Columbus forward Kei Kamara might be trying to hook him up with the Crew this time.
Hey @ochocinco am not in KC anymore. Am in Columbus (Ohio) now familiar territory. You welcome to come kick around ⚽️— KEI KAMARA (@keikamara) March 11, 2016
So after practice on Friday we asked Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes if he was going to give Ochocinco another trial. The answer was pretty clear.
What about bringing him to send him down to the Rangers?
"I would say that he is a little too old for spending time with the Rangers and then working his way back up to the first team. He had a great run when he was here but the time is over."
So it seems that another trial is not in the cards for Ochocinco. It's a little late in life to start that over again but all due respect to him, he loves soccer, doesn't let go of dreams and had the respect for the game to not treat the whole experience as a mockery when he was with SKC before.