Huckerby feels at home in the MLS
Norwich legend Darren Huckerby admits he has found a home from home in California.The 32-year-old has become an MLS revelation since linking up with the San Jose Earthquakes following his close season Carrow Road departure.
Norwich legend Darren Huckerby admits he has found a home from home in California.
The 32-year-old has become an MLS revelation since linking up with the San Jose Earthquakes following his close season Carrow Road departure.
Frank Yallop's outfit were rock bottom of the Western Conference before Huckerby's arrival in July after he snubbed an offer from Eastern rivals Toronto.
Huckerby has now helped spark an eight-game unbeaten run to revive the Earthquakes' play off hopes ahead of Saturday's latest home match against Real Salt Lake.
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The ex-City talisman is joint top scorer with four goals and two assists operating in his favoured left midfield role despite missing the opening three months of the MLS season - an impact the flyer attributes to his comfortable surroundings.
“Toronto is a great place, with great facilities, but I just felt at home here straight away,” he said. “San Jose is a little bit like Norwich, in that it's kind of quiet, and it's a nice place to live. But it wasn't one thing. It was a bunch of things that added up. It was the same when I went to Norwich. It sounds stupid, but after one or two games there, I knew it was the place where I wanted to finish playing football. From day one, the fans took to me straight away. I'm an exciting player, and I think they bought into it.”
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Huckerby reiterated his decision to head west was not motivated by money after turning down more lucrative offers to stay in England following his sudden Norwich exit.
The ex-Canary stalwart's reported $355,000 annual salary puts him just outside the top ten MLS earners - a list dwarfed by David Beckham's $46m LA Galaxy contract.
“It's not about the money, but it's easy for me to say that now that I've got a little bit of money behind me,” he said. “Obviously I've got to earn a living, but I've made choices over the last five or six years that a lot of people wouldn't have made. I've gone away from the money and more for the enjoyment. To be a player who started off playing in the Third Division, to playing here in California, it's kind of amazing.”
Huckerby's new team mates have been quick to attribute City's former-player-of-the-year as the catalyst behind San Jose's upturn in fortunes.
“I think Huckerby's English style of just going at players suits this league,” said Quakes' keeper Joe Cannon. “He's very aggressive, very North and South, and I think a lot of players come here from other backgrounds and try to play East/West, touching the ball around. It's not that type of league. It's so fast.
“And he's very passionate about winning. I don't think you can say that about a lot of other foreigners who come here. He forces defenders to make choices, uncomfortable choices. Do I slide tackle? Do I open up? Do I let him go wide? He has the ability to go both ways on defenders, and with his speed, his first step, he has the ability to beat almost anyone in this league.”