Updated at 12:40 p.m.
Chad Ochocinco and Sporting Kansas City have agreed to an arrangement that should benefit both:
Ochocinco will continue to work out with the MLS team as an “honorary member” during the lockout of NFL players and SKC will not offer him a contract.
“It’s awesome,” the Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver said. “Basically I can stay here and train as I please, which is really cool. Words can’t describe how thankful I am to be able to be here.”
Ochocinco, who gave up soccer in junior high in order to focus on football, showed enough progress — and drew enough national attention — for SKC to want to continue their relationship
“We told him we would not be offering him a contract with the team, but we feel his stay here has been so good in so many ways, we would offer him an opportunity to train with our reserves when they train in the afternoon on certain days of the week and continue to work on his fitness while he’s waiting for the lockout to finish, just because we think he’s become an honorary member of Sporting Kansas City.
“He has been fantastic in all ways. In the locker room with the guys, and just with the staff and everyone else, it’s been a real pleasure.”
Filed at 9:01 a.m.
Reviews of Chad Ochocinco’s debut with Sporting Kansas City are in and he did about as well as anyone, including himself, had any right to expect.
Ochocinco played 30 minutes with SKC’s reserves in a practice game Monday, displaying rusty soccer skills and a lack of soccer conditioning. He lost control of the ball a few times and his crosses were wobbly, according to the Kansas City Star. He looked, according to the Associated Press, “like a football player” on the pitch. Tommy Smyth advised him to “just give it a lash.”
“As I said before, it’s a longshot for him to make our roster. That remains [true],” said SKC Coach Peter Vermes, who was expected to meet with Ochocinco this morning.
“Either way it goes,” Ochocinco said, “I’m straight. I’m good.”
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His weaknesses aside, SKC has discussed keeping him around a while longer, the Star reports. Ochocinco’s quest to play his childhood game has become a hit reality show that has brought SKC more national attention than it has ever gotten. Besides, he isn’t going anywhere, thanks to the NFL lockout ,and there is a sense that he can improve.
“You can see how much better he’s gotten since he got here,” SKC chief executive Robb Heineman said. “You have that in back of your mind — what would he look like if he trained here every day for six months? He’d probably be a pretty good soccer player.”
So why not ride out the NFL lockout in MLS, if SKC is willing?
“I would like to, [but] not to play for real [for money],” Ochocinco said. “I’d [do it because] it would be good conditioning instead of sitting at home. Why sit at home when there’s a lockout? Let’s just keep on working until it gets resolved. And once it does get resolved, I’ll be in the best shape of [anybody].
“I think I talk to coach [today] and we'll go from there.”