Jermaine Jones wasn’t the only player in January’s U.S. Men’s national team camp without a team, former D.C. United defensive midfielder Perry Kitchen in search of a team, was also in camp. Kitchen rejected a reported $400K offer that would have doubled his previous pay and included multiple years from D.C. United. He now finds himself without a team as the MLS season quickly approaches. Working against Kitchen is the fact that the European window has closed for the major European leagues, leaving him with few options such as the Scandinavian leagues, another MLS team, or China.
Kitchen has been a key contributor to the D.C. United midfield since 2011 when he was selected third overall in the MLS SuperDraft and has been a fringe USMNT player since last year’s January camp. Kitchen has logged 158 regular season games for the black and red, playing in at least 31 games each season since his rookie year. Voted the 2013 D.C. United player of the year, Kitchen helped the team secure the 2013 U.S. Open Cup title that year. It would turn out to be the only hardware he won during his five seasons in D.C.
Kitchen’s prospects of staying in MLS seem to increase as each day ticks away. D.C. own his rights after making a qualifying offer to him, so any move within MLS will require compensation. With international windows closing up in the coming weeks, Kitchen will face a tough decision between abandoning his European dreams for the short term and swallow his pride and return to MLS or sitting out the next couple of months and wait until the summer transfer window opens. The latter option does not seem like a bright move after receiving his second January USMNT camp call up. If he sits for five months without playing, there is very little likelihood that he receives any call ups before the World Cup Qualifiers in the fall. By signing with an MLS team, at least for one year and assuming that team works out a compensation package with D.C. United, Kitchen gets a chance to play and be in line for potential national team call-ups. All this while courting new European suitors for a summer or Winter transfer next season.
Between now and the end of February there are 22 countries who’s windows will close, an additional 20 countries will stay open through March. However, as the calendar turns, the less the ideal situations present themselves. For instance, closing in February are leagues in China, Russia, Ireland, Romania, Argentina and Poland to name a few. In March, the options become Ukraine, Sweden, Norway, South Korea, Peru, Ecuador, Uzbekistan, Singapore, and Zimbabwe. Not exactly your household name top leagues in the world destinations. Yes, there are options in Europe still available in leagues that have big name clubs, some that play in the Champions League, but he was being rumored with clubs in Italy and Germany in December, to go from those potential suitors to playing for Rosenborg in the Tippeligaen, Norway’s top domestic league, is a bit of a drop off.
Being this late in the transfer season and his rights being owned by D.C. in MLS, Kitchen may consider China if a team will have him. He’ll be able to play competitively, get some international experience, and collect a big pay day for one season before going back out on the market in winter transfer window. The Perry Kitchen watch wheel continues to turn, no telling where, or when, it will stop at a final destination.
Main Photo: Rob Carr, Getty Images