Having sat through an awful 90 minutes against Huddersfield on Saturday, I focused on a single player. Eric Lichaj once again put in a decent shift under Dougie Freedman, but how does he compare to our previous American signings?
The game itself was woeful and the away team had the majority of the chances, Antonio was well out of sorts for Forest and David Vaughan seemed intent on over hitting every set piece.
It was no surprise to see Huddersfield take the lead after 43 minutes; Butterfield’s defence splitting through ball was neatly tucked away by Sean Scannell.
The second period provided a few brighter moments; Akpom and Chris Burke were in fine form. Antonio produced a great run and cross for substitute Tyler Walker, the youngster made a fantastic darting run across his marker and was brilliantly denied by the excellent Smithies, in the Huddersfield goal.
Mancienne had a point blank header well saved too, but the away team were good value for their back to back victories over us this season.
To be honest, as I watched the likes of Lansbury, Antonio and Vaughan playing at 50 per cent, I turned my attention to our American full back. Despite having a rollercoaster of a season, he has been rejuvenated under our new manager.
The man from Illinois ironically made his debut against Huddersfield in 2013, which resulted in a victory for Forest and a well earned clean sheet. From there on in he has played for Davis, Pearce and Freedman, in both the right and left back positions. Although not the most accomplished ball player, he does defend with ferocity and a real genuine desire.
You can see why Aston Villa took him on board from Chicago Fire and why Jurgen Klinsmann recalled him to the US national team prior to the last world cup.
It got me thinking; to my knowledge Eric is only the fourth American to represent Nottingham Forest.
I thought of Ben Olsen, John Harkes and, of course, Robbie Findley. Olsen was an early product of the MLS back in 2000, he played under David Platt and was a steady performer during a very dark era in the club’s history.
I would have liked to have seen him play for anyone but Platt, he had great potential and was a major part in the dominant DC United side back in his homeland.
Harkes was undoubtedly the most successful American of his era, the first to win a major trophy in England as a matter of fact. It was on the back of this triumph with Sheffield Wednesday that prompted his former boss, Ron Atkinson to bring him to the city ground.
However, he only made three appearances for us including “That 1-8 hammering by Man Utd” so it’s fair to say that his time on the banks of the Trent is best forgotten!
We’re all familiar with Robbie Findley, the speed merchant from Arizona! Having been a regular for the States in the 2010 World Cup, he came to the City Ground with quite a reputation. Despite the odd moment of magic and electric burst of pace he flattered to deceive.
This was personified by his omission from the national team and it was only a matter of time before he returned to Real Salt Lake City.
So looking back; despite what could have been for Olsen it’s fair to say that Eric Lichaj is a top rank Yank. The fact that he is currently serving a third consecutive manager at Forest, in an unfamiliar position, speaks volumes of the guy.
His game has improved immensely under Freedman and you can never question his attitude or desire. I touched on his distributional flaws earlier, but his job is to defend above all else.
So when I see a host of players strolling around because there is nothing to play for against Huddersfield, I take comfort in the application of Eric Lichaj’s performances!