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Keeping the plot on Juan Agudelo’s training spell at Celtic

Nov 16, 2012, 1:55 PM EDT

Mexico midfielder Mier and U.S. forward Agudelo watch the ball during the first half of their U-23 international friendly soccer match in Frisco Reuters

Looking at the comments on the Soccer By Ives story that first broke news of Juan Agudelo’s training spell with Scottish giant Celtic, the important points here may have gotten lost.

The whole thing devolved quickly into a silly debate about the quality of Celtic and Scottish soccer in general. Which is a fine (if somewhat tired) debate to have, I suppose, but poorly placed here.

Why? Because this is good news for Agudelo, the young U.S. international whose smart, skillful assist led to Michael Bradley’s goal Wednesday against Russia. Here’s what it means for Agudelo:

  • No matter what you think about the massive disparity in the top and bottom of Scottish Premier League Soccer, Celtic is a big club with quality players. No way a couple of weeks around Celtic Park will do any harm (assuming no injury misfortune, as we saw with Omar Gonzalez last year.)
  • These “training spells” have the double effect of being de facto tryouts. It presents a chance for up-close inspection of a young man’s training habits and day-to-day approach. It doesn’t mean he will ever be signed by Celtic, or any other name brand club that might contact the Glasgow club about him, but it certainly enhances the chances (assuming Agudelo passes muster, that is).
  • Finally, this is precisely what U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann wants to see, so this is a positive development for Agudelo’s national team endeavors. It’s not just the two weeks per se, it’s the added demonstration of commitment that Klinsmann wants to see. Rather than extra time off during Major League Soccer’s off-season, Agudelo, 19, is taking aggressive steps to keep training, to stay fit and keep adding to his soccer bag of tricks.
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