Former all-American defender Mark Wagenaar will help London City in its Open Canada Cup drive before he heads off to study statecraft at Seton Hall.
RYAN PYETTE, Free Press Sports Reporter
Mark Wagenaar is here for a good time, not a long time. The 24-year-old former all-American soccer player will follow in the cleat marks of his younger goalkeeping brother, Josh, and suit up for London City after earning a transfer from the Canadian Professional Soccer League's doormat Durham Storm earlier this week.
Wagenaar, a talented defender who starred at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, will play for City in tonight's Open Canada Cup wild-card game with the Metro Lions, but he won't be around for the end of the CPSL season.
"I've been accepted to the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy (at Seton Hall University) and I'm starting in two weeks," Wagenaar said. "I love travelling around the world and I'd love to get paid for it. The long-term goal is to become an ambassador. But right now, I just want to help London win the Cup."
Josh Wagenaar played in net for London in 2002 before accepting a scholarship to Hartwick College (along with teammate Tyler Hemming) in New York. City general manager Harry Gauss picked up Mark Wagenaar on loan until the end of the season.
"He fills an immediate need for us," Gauss said. "We have Marco Peeters out (recovering from a broken jaw) and that has really hurt us. We needed a player like Mark on the defensive side of the ball."
Wagenaar played for City rival Hamilton Thunder two years ago, but sat out last season in a dispute with management and eventually became a free agent.
"I went to California and joined the surf scene. I just became a beach bum for a while," he said. "But I missed playing. It was great to get back into it with Durham this year, but we haven't won so now it's nice to come to London with a shot at winning the Cup."
London, the defending Cup champion, beat the Scarborough-based Metro Lions on penalty kicks in a dramatic final at the Cove last Labour Day. Like last year, City was knocked out of the tournament early, but got back in as the wild-card host team for the final weekend. They're looking for the same kind of performance this weekend.
Besides Wagenaar, City also picked up defender Moscine Talouati from Sarnia Bluewater. The team also returns midfield magician Gentian Dervishi.
CPSL OPEN CANADA CUP
ALL AT COVE ROAD FIELD
Tonight: Wild-card game, London City vs. Metro Lions, 8:38 p.m.
Sunday: Semifinals, Windsor Border Stars vs. Ottawa Capital City, 5:18 p.m; Ottawa St. Anthony Italia vs. London/Metro winner, 8:38 p.m.
Monday: Final, 3:08 p.m.