Branching out: Kris Boyd’s American renaissance
AFTER underwhelming spells in England and Turkey, the much-maligned, record-breaking former Rangers striker has finally found a home in the MLS
UNLIKELY heroes pop up in football every so often, but none warm the heart as much as a local talent making his way in the world. Irvine-born Kris Boyd has found himself as the unlikely flavour of the month in the American MLS with an impressive debut for the Portland Timbers, leading many to tout him as a potential star for the season ahead.
For such a prolific goalscorer, the striker has often found himself out of favour at every club he’s signed for. Along with an inevitably impressive goal tally, misfortune has always been his loyal companion throughout his bumpy career.
Boyd’s time at Rangers seemed as problematic as it was fruitful; every brace was swiftly followed by a staunch critical attack of his general play. When Rangers were winning, the fans would sing his name. When they lost, he often found himself as something of a scapegoat. A lack of trust between the fans and their most prolific goalscorer was evident by the end of his tenure at Ibrox. He left the club in the summer of 2010 as the all-time highest SPL goalscorer with 101 goals in 118 games after Rangers chose not to extend his contract.
Boyd’s ability to find the back of the net has always seemed to elude even the most specific tacticians. His build; tall, broad and cumbersome would suggest a player who seemed a little outdated in the modern game. A striker designed for a past time when players were heralded for their ability, but never called upon for their faults. Yet, this is the modern game and Boyd’s inability to close down defenders or fill in defensively has, for most, masked his ability as a remarkable goalscorer.
The Scottish international’s ability to alienate himself from his own effectiveness followed him when he moved to the Riverside to play under Gordon Strachan’s Middlesborough. Strachan - manager of Celtic during Boyd’s time at Rangers - held the striker in high regard, but Strachan himself was not held in the same esteem by Middlesbrough, and was soon replaced by Tony Mowbray, whose strict philosophy on the type of football his sides play had already built a prejudice to Boyd, something which he never overcame.
Boyd would score a mere six goals in 26 appearances for Middlesbrough before moving to Nottingham Forrest on loan, scoring a further six goals in the Red’s bid for promotion.
From there, Boyd travelled to Turkey in the hope of finding a club in Eskisehirspor, that would accept his record in the face of such imperfections. Unfortunately, his move to Eskisehirspor turned from a hopeful new beginning to a legal and financial disaster as the striker would play a total of two games before taking up a legal battle with the club over unpaid wages, which eventually allowed him to leave under a breach of contract which he is still disputing in the FIFA court of law.
Earlier this month, Boyd found himself subject to a number of bids from MLS clubs. Despite initial contract talks with Houston Dynamo, the Scot eventually agreed to join the Portland Timbers on the 30th of January on a free transfer. One month later, Boyd started in his debut game for Portland, scoring in their 3-1 win over Philadelphia and has been ever-present for the side ever since.
Sixteen months after his move to Middlesbrough, the striker seems to have finally found his home. His past records are envied among his American counterparts rather than ridiculed. At Portland, the striker can walk with a stride full of pride that he never had in England or Scotland.
Most don’t get a second chance in this industry, but Kris Boyd seems to have found a club more than happy to accept his style of play. With such misfortune throughout his career, the striker deserves a bit of luck and appreciation for what he’s clearly very good at - scoring goals.
Other SPL ex-pats
Barry Robson – Having signed for the Vancouver Whitecaps in February of this year, the midfielder will hope to bring some experience to his new club once he joins in July.
Aiden McGeady – Signed for Spartak Moscow in 2010. The Republic of Ireland international is currently chasing his first league title.
Mark Burchill – The ex-Dunfermline and Celtic player is currently playing in Cyprus for Enosis Paralimni FC after leaving Kilmarnock in 2010 on a free contract. The forward has been a vital member of the squad and fundamental in helping the team avoid relegation.
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