Former English Premier League star Carlton Cole has returned to the United Kingdom in hopes of extending his career after a short stint with Republic FC.
Sacramento director of football Graham Smith and coach Paul Buckle hoped Cole would give the team a late-season boost in making a run to the USL championship. That didn’t quite pan out.
Cole, 33, was still bothered by a knee injury he suffered in March in his last U.K. stop with Celtic FC, the Scottish Premiership power, and wasn’t even close to match fitness when he arrived in late August. But while he didn’t score a goal for Sacramento in his four appearances totaling 101 minutes, he did have some impact.
I was mentoring a few of the young players at Celtic, and I was surprised how much influence I was having on them. So I really enjoyed it. I’ve visited the U.S. on vacation at least 13 times, so I know there’s a lot of talent here. I’d love to come back and try my hand at coaching young players.
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He played a role in Harry Williams’ goal that gave Republic FC a 2-1 win over the Orange County Blues FC on Sept. 3 at Bonney Field. Williams scored seconds after Cole entered in the 84th minute as a couple of Blues FC defenders were caught looking toward the hulking Cole near the goal as Daniel Trickett-Smith made a quick throw-in.
In his debut, Cole nearly scored deep inside the box in a 0-0 draw with the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on Aug. 27.
Cole failed to score on his only shot attempt during his 48-minute appearance for Republic FC against the visiting Blues FC in Sacramento’s first-round playoff loss Oct. 1, though he made one of four Republic FC penalty kicks in the shootout. The Blues FC prevailed 5-4 after a scorelessregulation and overtime.
Cole accomplished his goal of getting into better shape as he attempts to restart his career overseas or in Major League Soccer. He hasn’t ruled out Sacramento, either.
“Carlton’s now in very good physical condition and his match fitness is better than when he first arrived in Sacramento,” Smith said. “He’s gone back to the U.K. to see what his opportunities might be there. Then he’ll let us know his plans after Christmas.
“If he is in good physical condition and wants to come back to Sacramento, I see no reason why Paul wouldn’t want him back next season. He’s a real gentleman, and he’s been great to have around our young players.”
Before the season ended, Cole said he loved his time in Sacramento and began to think beyond his playing days.
“I was mentoring a few of the young players at Celtic, and I was surprised how much influence I was having on them,” Cole said. “So I really enjoyed it. I’ve visited the U.S. on vacation at least 13 times, so I know there’s a lot of talent here. I’d love to come back and try my hand at coaching young players.”
Smith said Republic FC didn’t have to open the vault to bring in Cole – he’s already made his millions in the U.K. – and the buzz his signing garnered in the United States and overseas was priceless. Buckle and Smith continue to mine the U.K. for young talent, having acquired Williams, Trickett-Smith and Wilson Kneeshaw from there, and Smith said Cole’s signing helped the club’s international visibility.
If he is in good physical condition and wants to come back to Sacramento, I see no reason why Paul wouldn’t want him back next season. He’s a real gentleman, and he’s been great to have around our young players.
Graham Smith, Republic FC director of football, on Carlton Cole
Jahn’s career boost – Forward Adam Jahn, who contributed winning goals for Republic FC in back-to-back victories over the Real Monarchs SLC in June, has seen his MLS career take an upswing since the San Jose Earthquakes traded him to the Columbus Crew in July.
Jahn scored twice against the Chicago Fire last Thursday and once at the New York Red Bulls on Sunday to earn MLS Team of the Week honors on Tuesday.
Jahn has scored five goals in 12 games and 459 minutes for Columbus, and his six total MLS goals for 2016 are a career high. He appeared in just 10 matches totaling 95 minutes and had one goal for San Jose. Before joining the Crew, he saw most of his playing time with Sacramento, where he appeared in 11 matches.