Duncan Oughton Puts Club First Rather Than Complains

ThomasSenior Writer IAugust 22, 2008

I was going through MLS articles looking for something to write about. By accident, I went to a newspaper's website. There I found this article on New Zealand defender, Duncan Oughton.

I thought it was too good to change myself, so I just put the original here.  Here's that article in its original form.


Crew: Veteran Puts Team First

Seldom used in games anymore, Oughton won't allow himself to complain
Friday, August 22, 2008 3:10 AM
Duncan Oughton is not yet in the twilight of his career.
As the Crew's longest tenured player looked down at the scar on his right knee after an intense practice this week, the 31-year-old was adamant: Retirement is not on his radar.

"He won't quit playing until he has no other options and his leg falls off," said Oughton's wife, Carly. "He loves the game that much."

So as he has done since 2001, Oughton carries on with the Crew, albeit in a role that is never easy for a veteran to accept.

The Crew's central midfield is now occupied by younger players such as Brian Carroll, Adam Moffat and Brad Evans. Oughton, a starter 91 times from 2001 to 2007, has been relegated to the bench. He has started one game and played in just two others this season. The bulk of his quantifiable contributions have come during reserve games and practices, but most of what he has done to help propel the Crew (10-6-4) to near the top of Major League Soccer can't be measured.

"He means a lot to this franchise and this city," coach Sigi Schmid said. "It's been a tough year for him, but I couldn't see him playing for anyone else.

"What I like more than anything is that he comes out and works so hard every day. That's good for the young players to see—a veteran who is not in the starting 11 to come out and get after it."

The fashion in which the Crew has won games indicates that Schmid's praise is not just lip service. The same descriptive adjectives—gritty, ugly, scrappy—help tell the tale of the team and its midfielder from New Zealand.

"More than anybody but maybe Frankie (Hejduk), Duncan is the face of this team," third-year goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said. "He has been here the longest, and there is a reason for that. He is the glue that holds a lot of things together. Even if he wasn't dressing for games, we would still be looking to him for leadership."

Oughton, however, is not content with being a figurehead. He won't complain about his diminished role but believes he is capable of playing more minutes.

The scar on his knee is a reminder of the 22 months he spent in rehabilitation after suffering major cartilage damage in 2005. He has worked too hard to be happy as a backup.

"People who say I've lost it (physically), that ticks me off more than anything," he said. "But I've been around awhile and I've seen the guys that complain. It just doesn't do any good and it rubs off on the other guys. I've wanted to win a championship since I came here, and if that involves me talking to the other guys all the time and playing two minutes here and there, it doesn't really matter."

Oughton will leave the team later this month to join the New Zealand national team for two World Cup qualifiers in September. He has reservations about leaving the Crew during a playoff chase but is looking forward to a new opportunity to earn playing time.

Schmid said there will be minutes available for Oughton when he returns.

"There will be times he's going to have to come on and play a very important role again," he said. "We know he is a guy we can rely on, and when his number gets called, he'll be there for us lock, stock and barrel."