It was a bit of a surprise when the New York Cosmos announced the signing of youth international Haji Wright last spring, but taking a bit of time to reflect on the decision made it pretty clear why the Los Angeles Galaxy academy product chose the NASL over MLS. When the Cosmos announced that the forward wouldn't be back for a second season in the NASL, speculation began anew that the forward was set to head to Europe.
On Tuesday, Metro New York is reporting what we've long suspected to be the case, that Wright will be joining Bundesliga side Schalke 04 when he turns 18 in March:
A league source tells Metro New York that Wright will be joining Schalke this spring. Wright, who is currently 17 years old, is not able to sign yet with the club until March but the source said that a deal has already been agreed to. The Bundesliga giants currently sit in sixth in the league, just three points outside of a Champions League spot. Schalke did not respond to a request from Metro New York for confirmation of this signing.
Wright heading to Europe should come as little surprise to Cosmos' fans, or MLS fans either. While Haji still has much development left to do in order to live up to his vast potential, he's far more likely to realize it be playing in Europe, where he'll face far more talent every day in training than he'd ever see on the pitch in the United States.
As speculated, the one-year stint in New York seems to be leading to a drama-free move to Germany, something that I hope other US youth internationals with European dreams are taking note of. It will be fascinating to watch Wright's career abroad, and hopefully he'll always look back fondly on his time in New York, while encouraging other youngsters to take the road less traveled on their way to the top.