After a relatively uneventful first two phases of preseason camp, the New England Revolution enter phase three – i.e. the Desert Diamond Cup tournament in Tucson, Ariz. – this week with a possible replacement for the departed Juan Agudelo in tow.
The club released a revised roster on Sunday, and among the newest names is Belgian international Marvin Ogunjimi, a 6-1, 180lbs. forward who’s trialing with the Revolution after an unremarkable stint with Belgium Pro League side Oud-Heverlee Leuven.
The 26-year-old forward, who was loaned out to Oud-Heverlee Leuven from Spanish La Liga side Mallorca, has played 18 games so far for the Belgian squad, but has not registered a goal to date. His last strike came on Feb. 2, 2013 for Beerschot AC (Belgium), which ran into financial troubles following the 2012-13 season.
Ogunjimi kicked off his pro career in 2004 with Belgian side KRC Genk, where he scored 30 goals in 84 games from 2004-2011. During a portion of that spell, he was loaned out to Dutch side RKC Waalwijk for the 2007-08 season, where he collected 10 goals in 27 games.
His goal-scoring prowess attracted the attention of Mallorca, who signed him in November 2011. But after struggling to find a spot on the Spanish side, he’s been since loaned out to three different Belgian clubs, including Standard Liege.
At the national team level, Ogunjimi has appeared seven times for Belgium, scoring five goals. Despite that impressive rate, he hasn't been capped since 2011.
Given the success the Revolution found with the 4-1-4-1 in 2013, Ogunjimi appears to fit the profile of a classic number 9, a role the club has looked to fill since Agudelo signed a pre-contract with Stoke City last August. Like Agudelo, the Belgian forward has the size to out-muscle opposing center backs, and has the pedigree to thrive overseas. His profile on Mallorca's official website suggests that Ogunjimi is accurate with both feet, mobile and good in the air.
However, the most pressing question is whether he’s capable of rediscovering his scoring touch, which has all but abandoned him over the last two years. After scoring 18 goals in 38 games for Genk during the 2010-11 season, he’s only tallied once in his last 38 games.
Despite his recent scoring drought, transfermarkt.com currently lists Ogunjimi’s value at 1,000,000 Euros ($1.36 million).
More new faces join club for Desert Diamond Cup
While Ogunjimi is the most intriguing addition to the preseason roster, the Revolution also brought goalkeeper Jason Dodson, as well as Academy prospects Austin Aviza and Zach Herivaux for their trip to Tucson.
Dodson collected three clean sheets in 11 games during his redshirt senior year at the University of Portland in 2013. The 22-year-old goalkeeper was not taken in the SuperDraft, but was invited to the 2014 USL Player Combine last month.
Aviza is a goalkeeper for the Revolution’s U-16 side, while Herivaux is a central midfielder for the Revolution’s U-18 squad. Both will be able to play in the senior side’s Desert Diamond Cup matches without jeopardizing their NCAA eligibility.
“Austin and Zach have already trained with the first team on multiple occasions, and this opportunity to join the team in Tucson has been well-earned,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said in a statement last week. “Our goal for the Academy from the beginning has been to develop players for our first team and this opportunity is another step in that direction.”
Coming down the homestretch
The recent barrage of snowstorms that have hit Foxboro, Mass. may suggest otherwise, but it won’t be long before the Revolution are back on the pitch for regular season action. In fact, less than three weeks stand between the club and their regular season debut.
But before they do, the Revolution will kick off the Desert Diamond Cup tournament at 8:00pm ET on Wednesday when they face Real Salt Lake at Kino Sports Complex.
From there, matches against Chivas USA (Saturday) and the Chicago Fire (Feb. 26) await before the tournament’s championship and consolation games are held on Mar. 1.
A week later, the Revolution will kick off the 2014 regular season at 8:30pm ET on Mar. 8, when they face the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.