The latest entry to our new feature, the Tilehurst End Mailbag, is prompted by a question sent in by American Royal Jeremy Conner, who says:
I'm an American plain and simple, but the Royals were the first club I loved. And I still do. I bleed Reading. One thing I've always thought was special was how Reading takes chances on American players ala Hahneman and now Williams. Is there any chance that Reading could poach another American with the likes of Aron Johannsson scoring bucket loads for Alkmar but being relatively unknown?
Reading certainly do have form when it comes to American players making their mark in Berkshire. The famed 106-point side of 2005-06 called on Seattle-born Marcus Hahnemann and Pennsylvanian Bobby Convey as regular starters, with the former turning out 282 times for the Royals in an eight-year stint, with the latter notching seven goals in 98 appearances in the five years he spent in Berkshire. Hahnemann and Convey also made an impact on the international scene - Bobby Convey becoming the first Reading player to play at a World Cup whilst with the club.
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Since then, it's been a bit more of a mixed bag for American fortunes at the Madejski, with Erik Opsahl coming into the academy in 2011 but was unable to earn a long term contract with the club.
However, one stand-out success in an otherwise disappointing season was midfielder Danny Williams. Having arrived from 1899 Hoffenheim in the summer of 2013 for an undisclosed fee, the bleach-blonde haired player from Karlsruhe (being born in Germany gave him the chance to play for either nation thanks to dual-citizenship) certainly made an impression in Berkshire. Despite an injury-hit season, he formed partnerships in the middle of the park with the likes of Danny Guthrie and Hope Akpan, scoring crucial goals away from home at Millwall, Queens Park Rangers and Charlton in the process.
In fact, he did so well that his performances were rewarded with third place in the official Player of the Season vote, and second place in our very own Tilehurst End vote. As Jonny pointed out, he actually got the highest number of man of the match gongs despite only making 24 starts all season.
As for the future of American Royals, the future looks pretty bright with the addition of Andriy Novakovic to the academy for the upcoming season. Whether he turns out to be an American Hustle or an American Horror Story is yet to be seen, but if he does well, he'll be only the latest in a series of soccer successes for our cousins from across the pond. As Tim Howard and co. showed in Brazil, American football is very much on the rise, and there's no reason why Reading shouldn't be a part of that.
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