Corben Bone’s Major League Soccer career has never progressed as smoothly as Rob Vartughian and others had predicted it would end up.
The former American youth international has struggled to find paying time in MLS, despite being drafted by the Chicago Fire in the first round of the same 2010 SuperDraft that netted the Philadelphia Union Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo.
Since then, however, Bone’s career has sputtered as he played just 18 total games in four years in Chicago, with zero goals to show for it.
Bone’s collegiate career was bright enough that MLS signed him to a Generation Adidas contract, but the midfielder failed to catch on with the Fire. There was a brief stint in the lineup during the 2011 season, but the team’s decision to hire Frank Klopas relegated Bone back to the bench.
When the Fire drafted the Texican Xavi in 2010, he was expected to challenge for a starting role as an attacking midfielder – and at the midpoint of 2011, he seemed to be on track, starting seven times before June. Once Frank Klopas took over as manager, though, his playing time became asymptotic to zero – in the last two seasons, he’s made a grand total of three sub appearances for a total playing time of 29 minutes.
The Union see that same potential in Bone. Vartughian, the club’s Technical Director, and head coach John Hackworth have tracked him until now because of their feelings about his talent.
“We’ve known Corben for a long time,” Union technical director Rob Vartughian told MLSSoccer.com. “Corben is a very explosive, creative attacking player. And if you followed his career before he went to Chicago, he showed some of those qualities both on the international level as well as with his college team.”
The question in concern to Bone is not whether or not he has talent, as his nickname with the Fire suggested. It comes down to the same problems faced by Freddy Adu when the Union acquired him: will a club change be the cure all?
Youth plays a rather large factor in these circumstances, but Bone isn’t the youngster that Vartughian makes him out to be in the MLSsoccer.com article, authored by Dave Zeitlin. Four years in MLS makes him a veteran on the Union, a team with a squad young enough to consider players like McInerney, Okugo and Sheanon Williams as old heads.
Bone is already 25-years-old, which would tip him as nearly fully developed as a player throughout the world. The possibility of unlocking what was once considered true attacking potential out of the midfield has wilted away into the enigma of either a talent lost or one ready to be unlocked.
The problem for Bone lies in the Union’s inability to produce any quality in the midfield.
The departure of Michael Farfan came after his own development faltered and the same can be said of Roger Torres, who is also slated to leave Philadelphia before the new year. Realistically, the only midfielder the Union can point to as a team developed or ‘rebuilt’ player is Danny Cruz, who was a victim of happenstance with DC United after a solid beginning to his career with the Houston Dynamo.
When it comes down to it, the Union don’t have the history or credibility to right off determine that the acquisition of Bone merits an pat on the back for the front office.
It will be another wait and see in a long line of decisions made over the course of four plus years.