The New York Cosmos have been slow to get going this winter, but this week they announced the acquisition of midfielder Michael Lahoud from the Philadelphia Union. Lahoud has been around Major League Soccer for a while, now, so I decided to ask around with a few colleagues who have followed him more closely than I have, to see what they thought of the new Cosmos midfielder.
First up, I got in touch with Eugene Rupinski of Brotherly Game, SB Nation's Union blog. Here's what he had to say about Lahoud:
Mike Lahoud is a solid MLS veteran defensive midfielder that can play center back in a pinch. His play with Chivas USA and the Philadelphia Union have earned him a spot on the Sierra Leone National Team. He's strong off the ball and covers a lot of ground at CDM. He has spent the better part of three seasons working with the likes of Brian Carroll and Maurice Edu, two of the better CDM's in MLS at various points in their careers.
His greatest contributions, however, might be off the pitch. He has been a tireless crusader for "Schools For Salone", a charity that builds schools in his native Sierra Leone, and has helped raise awareness to fight ebola. He's always willing to speak with and meet with fans, and is a good guy to have in the locker room.
Alicia Ratterree of The Goat Parade was also kind enough to share a few thoughts about Lahoud, who started his MLS journey with Chivas USA:
To me, Michael Lahoud showed he's a good squad player for a soccer team, able to play a decent job as a holding midfielder, although he's struggled at times in his career with injuries. But one thing I noticed with Lahoud is the respect he garners in American soccer, for his exploits both on and off the field.
He grew up in Virginia but is originally from Sierra Leone. He hasn't forgotten where he comes from, and through the "Schools for Salone" project, has helped bring attention and resources to a program that is trying to provide education for Sierra Leone's children. He's frequently involved in charitable work, and his big heart and veteran presence have no doubt helped him in his soccer career, too.
I also admired the fact that Lahoud accepted a call-up to Sierra Leone's national team during the ebola crisis in his native country a few years ago. He went through hell on one trip, with Sierra Leone's opponent forfeiting the game and the entire team kind of having to wait for a place to go -- they were restricted in their movement.
The Cosmos are getting a solid player, but a guy whose character is terrific, who is happy to interact with fans, and who works hard on and off the field. Seems like a good fit.
There is a pretty common theme among everyone mentioning Lahoud that he's one of the best character guys in the game, and that alone has me excited to see him joining the boys in green and white. That said, the little I've seen of him on the pitch has me excited to add him as well, as his skillset appears to be a bit different than what we have with Danny Szetela and Adam Moffat (or had with Marcos Senna), and there's plenty of reason to hope that Michael can be what we hoped Joseph Nane would become.