Football in Oceania takes a look at the most interesting transfers of players from Oceania over the summer months.
With the transfer window in the major leagues around the world coming ever closer to the end, this seems like a fitting time to look at the most interesting transfer business from an Oceania perspective.
Spoiler warning: There’s been a huge influx of players to the MLS
Michael Boxall – Minnesota United | Major League Soccer | USA/Canada
Boxall was an integral part of the New Zealand team that travelled to the Confederations Cup and the All Whites veteran now finds himself back in the MLS, having left Vancouver Whitecaps some five years ago. The move back to the US was not your everyday transfer as Boxall refused to extend his contract with South African Premier League side SuperSport United when they tried to change the extension-clause that was already in his previous contract, presumably to get him to take a pay-cut, he said no and left the club on a free. Now with strugglers Minnesota, Boxall might just have found himself a perfect home. The team sits bottom in the Western Conference of the MLS and have shipped almost 50 goals (49 if you want to be picky) in the first 23 matches. They are, in other words, a team in dire need of a good defender, and that is what Boxall is. He made his debut in the 3-0 defeat to New York Red Bulls and have played two more matches since then.
Stefan Marinovic – Vancouver Whitecaps | Major League Soccer | USA/Canada
Marinovic is one of two recently arrived Kiwis in the Canadian city of Vancouver (Deklan Wynne came last summer while Francis de Vries arrived back in the winter, so there’s four in total) and the All Whites no.1 looks to be no.2 in Canada, at least for the immediate future. Having plied his trade for Unterhaching and helping them win promotion to the 3. Liga in Germany, Marinovic put his abilities on show for the wider audience at the Confederations Cup and Vancouver perked up. There were rumours of moves to the English Championship or elsewhere but he ended up in the MLS and made his debut this weekend where Vancouver lost 1-0 to New England Revolution. First-choice keeper David Ousted is expected to start again next time out, but at least Marino got his debut out of the way.
Patrick Aisa – Hamilton Wanderers | Stirling Sports Premiership | New Zealand
“Who?”, you might say. This is perhaps the most low-key transfer on this list, but it might be one of the more important ones down the road. The 23-year-old striker will join up with former All Whites coach Ricki Herbert at Hamilton Wanderers in the New Zealand Premiership. They have previously worked with each other when Herbert was coach of the Papua New Guinea U-23 team in 2015. Aisa recently shone on the international stage when he came off the bench to score and assist a goal in Papua New Guinea’s 2-1 win over Tahiti in the World Cup qualifier in March, then he also scored in the match after that, in PNG’s 3-2 loss to the Solomon Islands in June. A striker with bags of potential has now made a move that could see him discovered by clubs outside of the NZ Premiership if he does well.
Myer Bevan – Vancouver Whitecaps 2 | United Soccer League | USA/Canada
The other new Kiwi in Canada is playing for the Whitecaps second team with de Vries and Wynne and although the deal was agreed back in May he had to wait for his debut as he first had to take part in the successful U20 World Cup for New Zealand in South Korea. When he finally made his debut towards the end of June, coming off the bench in a 2-2 draw against Oklahoma City, it didn’t take long for him to start scoring. The first goal came in his fourth game against Reno and he followed that up with another one against Orange County. This weekend he got shown a straight red card as the referee deemed that he had kicked an opposing Seattle Sounders 2 player. Eight matches and two goals is a decent start to life in a new country, however, Bevan needs to start scoring even more regularly if he wants to move up to the first team, but at twenty years of age, there’s no rush.
Alwin Komolong – Stuttgarter Kickers | Regionalliga | Germany
This is a transfer to get excited about. The second Papua New Guinean to play in Europe right now and the first to play first team football (David Browne is on the books at Groningen but plays U23-ball). The Regionalliga is Germany’s fourth tier and Stuttgarter Kickers are serious promotion contenders. Normally German fourth tier teams are not allowed to sign non-EU players but Alwin can join the Regionalliga thanks to his German mother, which gives him German citizenship. An added bonus to this is that he also seems to speak quite decent German which will surely help with the transition and integration into the team.
Having joined after finishing university in the USA where he played for Northern Kentucky University, the defender who has Thierry Henry as his idol has established himself right in to the heart of the Kickers team. He’s played every single game so far, three in the league and two in the Regional Cup.
Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers/Timbers 2 | Major League Soccer | USA/Canada
I’ll be honest, this could potentially be the worst move on this list. It all looked fine to begin with, Tuiloma could get a new start instead of rotting in Marseille with little chance of playing and the club he was moving to was a good one in a good league, but then Timbers head coach Caleb Porter commented on the new signing:
“To be honest I’m not all that familiar with him. Gavin [Wilkinson, General Manager, former All Whites player] presented the option of getting a young player that could give us depth for the next six months at a minimum. We felt in the position we were in anybody would help us”
Not the greatest words to hear if you are a new signing, now is it? Tuiloma was almost immediately moved down to the Timbers second team and has featured twice, going the full 90 both times, so he has at least played some football. I doubt Tuiloma will stay longer than the six months his original contract runs (Timbers have an option to extend for one more year), unless things change drastically, and he will have to look for a new club come Christmas time.
Felix Komolong – Northern Kentucky University | USA
The younger brother of Kickers’ Alwin Komolong has decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and enrolled at the Northern Kentucky University where he will play for their “soccer” team Norse. Felix has been given the no.5 shirt, usually a sign that he will start a lot of games, it will be interesting to see what he can do for the university team, perhaps it can give him a similar option to what his brother got come graduation day.
Wesley Lautoa – Dijon | Ligue 1 | France
New Caledonia’s Lautoa, who has not featured for Les Cagous in several years, has had a very unfortunate start to life at his new club. Having arrived from recently relegated Lorient he signed a three year deal with Dijon and started in the first match of the season against Marseille where he had to be taken off after a nasty crash that resulted in a broken leg just nine minutes into the game. The coach Olivier Dall’Oglio said they didn’t know how long he was going to be out for at a press conference, but they feared everything from three to six months.
Marco Rojas – Heerenveen | Eredivisie | Netherlands
One of New Zealand’s brightest stars is giving life in Europe another go after not succeeding at Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga. After unsuccessful loan spells at Greuther Fürth and Thun, Rojas returned to Melbourne and had a great season there. Now we shall see if he can make it in Europe the second time around. Heerenveen are one of the biggest clubs in the Dutch top flight and can usually be found fighting for the Europa League spots. Rojas came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute as Heerenveen fumbled away a secure 2-0 lead, and then a 3-2 lead, in the last ten minutes against arch rivals Groningen.
Niko Kirwan – AC Mestre | Serie C | Italy
The final move on this list went quite under the radar as moves go, but the former Team Wellington player has found a new home in the town of Mestre just outside of Venice after impressing on trial. According to reports, he did very well in the friendly fixtures and he will hopefully play a lot of games when the season starts. He was left out of the matchday squad for the side that travelled to play Sudtirol, and won 3-0, in the Coppa Italia Serie C first leg, the cup competition for teams in Serie C, on the weekend, but that was said to be a weakened squad so that might not be a definitive guideline of how things are going to pan out.