By Liviu Bird
After a successful trial period with top-division Icelandic club Fimleikafélag Hafnarfjarðar (FH), former USL Pro defender Sean Reynolds signed a one-year contract. Along with playing in the Úrvalsdeild, Reynolds’ club will compete in the 2014-15 UEFA Europa League.
“Sean is a strong, talented player who stood out at our November event in Auburndale,” SoccerViza event director Stephen Cenatiempo said. “His ability and positive mental attitude were very evident, and because of this maturity and knowledge of the game, he was someone who impressed with high marks.”
Reynolds went from being unsure about his playing future after a rocky rookie season with VSI Tampa Bay in USL Pro to signing a contract in Europe in a little over a month, facilitated by SoccerViza’s Auburndale, Fla., event.
Giving advice to players in a similar spot, Reynolds said, “I recommend you take SoccerViza seriously. … Just come to the combine ready to play, and the coaches will see you.”
Reynolds said his time on trial in Iceland was “an eye-opener.”
“I had an amazing time,” he said. “The experience was almost overwhelming in a sense that I’m an American player, I’m in a country where English isn’t the first language, I’ve never played in 20 degree weather. … At the same time, it was calming because I was there to do what I always wanted to do, and that was to play abroad. Football is the same wherever you go.”
Now, Reynolds has a chance to play first-division soccer and in a continental competition. By finishing second in the Úrvalsdeild in 2013, FH earned a spot in the 2014-15 Europa League first qualifying round.
“The club has had a winning mentality for almost 10 years now,” Reynolds said. “FH wants to challenge for the title. They want to go further into the Champions and Europa stages. They want to win the Icelandic Cup. Winning is what’s on the brain at all times.”
On a personal level, Reynolds said he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by high expectations from the club and fans.
“My goals for the season are to learn and progress every day,” he said. “I want to adapt to how quick the game over there is, and I know I can. Do I want to push for a starting position? Of course, but realistically, I want to grow and develop as a player.”
FH starts training Jan. 4 and will participate in a preseason tournament in Portugal before the 2014 season kicks off in May. The Europa League draw is June 23, and qualifiers start July 3.
“What SoccerViza enables these players to do is show who they are as a player and a person and because of our formula, the chances for success are very high,” Cenatiempo said. “From the entire staff, we would like to congratulate Sean and wish him the best of luck in his new journey in his career.”
Liviu Bird is SoccerViza’s lead writer, also working for SoccerWire.com and American Soccer Now, among other outlets. He played NCAA Division II soccer at Seattle Pacific University. Follow him on Twitter at [at]liviubird.