NEW YORK – To get an idea of just how highly rated Generation adidas goalkeeper David Bingham is, all MLS fans need to know is that he received his MLS contract offer while on trial in England at English Premier League club Fulham.
“It was a unique situation,” Bingham told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “I think this is the best time for me to leave school.”
Following his junior season at at the University of California, Bingham was invited by Fulham for a 10-day trial through his college coach, Kevin Grimes. He paid for the trip himself to protect his college eligibility, but when the Generation adidas offer came through on Jan. 6, he wanted to honor his commitment to Fulham before making his final decision. In doing so, he missed out on the SuperDraft.
“Whether you start your career in Europe or in the United States really depends on the goalkeeper,” said Bingham, who is working on landing a European passport through his Spanish-born grandmother. “But the Generation adidas [contract] offers the opportunity to go back to school bonus, which is something no European team will give you.”
Bingham is keen on finishing his social welfare major while also securing a minor in legal studies. He’s already arranged to complete online classes although there will be a few he will have to wrap up at Cal in order to be eligible for graduation.
The timing of his decision – he returned home from England on the day of the SuperDraft – means his first MLS team will be left to chance through Wednesday's weighted lottery.
“I grew up going to Quakes games,” he said. “But I wouldn’t say I prefer to going to one team over another. Any team would be an honor. … Where I land doesn’t make a huge difference but a West Coast team would make it easier from an academic point of view.”
Goalkeeping runs in the Bingham household. His older sister, Kimberly Bingham, was a women’s youth national team goalkeeper and was part of the final camp ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He is also following in the footsteps of another former Cal goalkeeper who also joined MLS on a Generation adidas goalkeeper: Stefan Frei. Bingham’s style has been compared with the Toronto FC ‘keeper.
However, his high school years of alternating between goalkeeper and field player – mainly at forward – helped him develop a set of skills which he considers unique.
“I consider myself an athletic goalkeeper,” Bingham said. “But I think my feet are what set me apart. I spend hours working on my feet. If a goalie makes a mistake, it’s often the feet. I pride myself having good feet on the ball and being good with my distribution.”
The 10 days of training with Fulham's reserve side and first team didn't hurt either. Although he didn’t interact much with Americans Eddie Johnson or Clint Dempsey, he picked the brain of the club's goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches for tips.
He'll be able to put them to good use soon enough. Bingham’s eventful start to 2011 will culminate in Wednesday’s lottery (3 p.m. ET).
“I’m going to try not to think about it [the lottery] too much,” he said. “I don’t’ want to drive myself crazy. I just want to show up and work my hardest and help my team in any way to help us win. That’s the goal of any player to go out and win games. I want to win. I don’t like losing. It starts with hard work and the preseason and I can’t wait to get to work.”