“After 11 years in the Netherlands, I wanted something completely different and I got it too!”

Tuesday 22nd December 2020 at

Thijs VerhaarDecember 22, 2020 Last updated: 12:53

Michael van der Werf played for 11 years in Dutch professional football and all of a sudden it ended up completely last summer. He went to the United States, where he spent an odd season. Now he has doubts about his future as a non-transfer player. A stay at FC Cincinnati is an attractive option, but it is also possible to choose another adventure on the other side of the world. He really loves life as an adventurer.

By Thijs Verhaar

The outbreak of the Coronavirus, who has been locked up in his hotel room for a month, Ron Gans who has been fired for alleged racism; Van der Werff has a lot of options to choose from as the oddest factor in his first year at MLS, but he’s picking something completely different. “The kids learned to speak English fluently so quickly and feel completely comfortable here. My family also needs to be in good shape, otherwise it won’t be of use to me,” explains Nola’s (6) father Wajeez (3), 31 years old. . “It was a little exciting the first weeks at school, but they became friends very quickly. So cool to see. This also makes it easier for my wife and I to enjoy ourselves.”

Van der Werf set off in the summer of 2019. After spending his entire career in the Netherlands at FC Volendam, PEC Zwolle and Vitesse, he started working for FC Cincinnati last year, brought as the first Dutchman and soon joined by his compatriots Haris Medunjanin, Jurgen Locadia and Siem. De Jong. This also made it easier to get used to here. It certainly wasn’t a problem for me to be the only Dutch player to choose, but it is very good that we were able to spend a lot of time together in the last year. They are good guests I love to eat with or just have a nice chat with them. I can really say that we built a close friendship. “

They couldn’t celebrate much sporting success together, because Cincinnati played a dramatic season and finished last. Van der Werf, who was not discouraged by the poor results, said: “So fortunately no one has landed in the MLS.” “Once you are at the bottom, everything falls in the wrong direction and that wasn’t different with us. We had a lot of injuries and it was all simply against us. Because of the messy setup, we quickly told each other that this had to be a year of construction and that next season It should be better. We have already started training slowly, so I expect it to be much better after that. “

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However, it’s not entirely certain that Van der Werf will still play for Cincinnati. He may, subject to his one-year contract, move on a transfer-free basis if he so desires, but he also has the option of one year extension and a second option. “I really enjoy myself here, but I always live with the idea that I will see what comes next. This is how I am still in it. I work hard and then something beautiful passes. If I stay here for another year, I will do my best here and maybe there will be a huge challenge to start with.” Somewhere in January “, the defender continues, knowing that the chartered Medunjanin and Locadia will still have the season.

Only Sim de Young left for the Eredivisie where it was introduced as a new addition to sc Heerenveen last month. Van der Werf does not see the same move to return to the Netherlands himself now. “It’s not that I don’t necessarily want to go back, but I saw that last year. That’s why I didn’t want to renew at Vitis,” he explains. The defender won the KNVB Cup with Arnhem and did the trick earlier with PEC Zwolle. People say that, so I’m proud of it. I also had very nice moments in the Netherlands but at one point I was ready for something else and you got it too! I’m glad we dared to do so. So far it has worked very well. “

The level of competition, beautiful stadiums, the many excursions, different cultures and the ultimate sporting experience all speak to Van der Werff for MLS. “Everyone here loves sports and this really appeals to me. Usually there are 27,000 fans in the stands every week,” he knows. “This is really cool and I went here too with the idea that I’ll be able to travel a lot and see a lot of countries, but because of Covid. This is now of course not possible. Luckily, in 2019 and the beginning of 2020 I’m still testing what it is with full stadiums and this is very cool. It’s no coincidence that some big names are added every year, because it’s just a great competition with a lot. Of matches. “

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Maybe he didn’t have to look across the border years ago? Now I’ll say yes, but you never know in advance. Maybe it was like I didn’t have a good time here or my wife and kids just couldn’t get used to it. Luckily, everything is going well thanks to the help of everyone in the club and in The neighborhood We really live in a beautiful place NeighborhoodContinues Van der Werf, who wants to go to the Netherlands in January for a family visit. “Of course we miss seeing friends and family, so we hope that is possible and allows them to travel and fly,” said the defender, who wants to mentally recharge himself for the New Year.

Van der Werff has played nearly 250 professional duels in the Netherlands in eleven years: 94 times for Vitesse, 77 times for PEC Zwolle and 76 times on behalf of FC Volendam.

“Last season, I only played halfway due to a number of injuries, otherwise I would definitely have played more games. Next year I hope to keep in shape and then of course it’s up to the coach. I know Yap as a good guy and I worked with him at PEC Zwolle. In the past, even though I don’t know if it was an advantage that we know each other and have the same nationality. In the end he just has to choose the best eleven, ”it seems sober. Van der Werf, who noted that he learns a lot from the former international player, praised, “He’s had an amazing career as a player and as a coach who really showed nice things at PEC.” He was a world-class central defender, so I can learn a lot from that even in like age”.

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Stam joined Cincinnati last season after being sacked by Ron Gans for alleged racism. Van der Werf doesn’t want to stir up the past unnecessarily and only says he is happy that the coach is doing well at FC Twente. “I hope he can stick to that and focus on Cincinnati for the time being, where Yap is my coach. It was a tough start due to all those turmoil of course, and once he got there, everyone had to be quarantined right away, and we weren’t allowed to train for weeks, then after. Ten days of preparation came the big MLS Is Back tournament, in which we played for a month. Locked up in our room and only allowed out to eat, exercise or play. That was pretty intense, yeah. Then as a coach tried to convey some of your thoughts right away. … despite everything he did well, so no one doubts his abilities. “

Van der Werf is sure Stamm will remain at the helm at the start of next season, although it is not entirely clear when the new year will start. “There is talk of starting much later than usual so that the fans can return to the stadium if needed. Actually, I heard it might be May, but this is just speculation. We’ll see what happens,” he repeats. “It would be nice if everything was back to normal next season. I give her a good chance to play here next year, and then it would be perfect if I could still experience the adventure that I came for. Last year, like I said, I really had the opportunity.” To try it up to an extent, so I know how cool it can be. ‘

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