MLS: DC United go Long in search for a Tan
After social media outrage about a lack of playing time, Long Tan eventually got his wish. On Thursday June 28, 2012 Vancouver Whitecaps traded the Chinese striker to DC United in return for a 2015 Supplemental Draft Pick.
Three weeks prior to this move Mr Tan furiously posted a tweet indicating his surprise and discomfort over a lack of first team action at BC Place. Martin Rennie and the Whitecaps decided his action were deemed to be completely unnecessary punishing him with an immediate suspension.
Long Tan began playing soccer at the age of six for his hometown side Zhong Shan in Dalian, Liaoning China. While in the process of studying academics, soccer was always a dream and a move to Shanghai United offered him the chance to turn dreams into reality. Three years later he was on the move again, Chinese League 1 outfit Pudong Zobon were keen to obtain his services and he eventually went through with the move.
In a 24-month spell Tan mananged to run out 16 times scoring six goals in the process. His first ever professional goal came against Beijing Institute Of Technology, but his strike was not enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat.
In 2008 the Tan family decided to relocate starting a new life in the United States, and Long settled quickly scoring seven goals in a brief spell for Atlanta Blackhawks. Prior to a move to USSF Division Professional League’s FC Tampa Bay, the striker attended open trials at Philadelphia Union. However his talents failed to win him a recall, and the Tampa Bay move took place immediately after.
Having failed to enter double figures in his short but adventurous career, the Vancouver Whitecaps took him on trial during the 2010 off season. His impressive attitude and unique attributes sparked the Vancouver hierarchy into offering him a deal to play in the Whitecaps inaugural MLS season.
Days after signing his contract Long Tan was a debutant against the club that turned him away the Philadelphia Union. A 1-0 margin was all it took to send an ink marked line into the loss column for the boys from Canada. But into the history books he went becoming the first ever Chinese footballer to ply his trade in the MLS.
The season was to end on a high though for the youngster. In mid-October against his new club DC United, Long Tan rose highest to score his first MLS goal, as the Whitecaps triumphantly ran out 2-1 winners. And again the record books were marked under the LT initials, his header was the first one ever to be scored by a player from China. It seemed as if under Martin Rennie he was being kept under wraps until the time was right, but different personalities and ideas clashed in the Vancouver heat.
Despite Rennie denying his Twitter comments were the main reason for his departure, the Scot felt the time was right to trade him away to the US capital Washington DC, were the RFK Stadium will be the new home of the talented forward. With another strikers' queue lengthened in depth, Tan feels he is capable of playing more under Ben Olsen. But I’m sure Chris Pontius and Hamdi Salihi will have something to say about it.
Article by Anthony Bedworth