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Lithuanian joins the revolution

Last update - Thursday, July 9, 2009, 12:06 By Charlie Johnson

Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Brazil in the 2009 Confederations Cup, American soccer fans will now have a little something to smile about as five-time Lithuanian Player of the Year Edgaras Jankauskas is headed Stateside.The 34-year-old forward will join Major League Soccer (MLS) club the New England Revolution as part of the team’s 20-man senior roster, pending approval of a P-1 Visa.

“We are pleased to sign Edgaras,” said Michael Burns, the Revolution’s vice-president. “He is a very experienced player at both the club and international level, and he is a proven scorer who can hold the ball up well.”
Jankauskas’ stop in New England is just one of many on the Lithuanian’s long and successful career. He has played all over Europe, including stints in Portugal, Spain, Scotland, Belgium, Russia and his home nation of Lithuania, among others.
He was also part of the 2003 UEFA Cup and 2004 UEFA Champions League winners FC Porto. 
Along with his prolific club experience, Jankauskas brings with him 54 international appearances and 10 international goals, six of which came in World Cup qualifiers. 
New England’s signing of Jankauskas is yet another example of a growing number of proven international veterans heading to the United States to play for MLS teams, with Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo, Juan Pablo Ángel and most notably English star David Beckham serving as prime examples. 
While soccer still lags in popularity behind American football, baseball and basketball in the United States, the growing number of international stars heading to America may be an indication that the sport may be on the rise.
But not everyone is in agreement. “The impact of Jankauskas playing in the US would be much less than that of several Lithuanian basketball players who have played or still are playing in the NBA,” says Arunas Teišerskis of the Lithuanian Association of Ireland.
And Vygintas Strioga, a Lithuanian living in Ireland for the last eight years, is quick to note that just because a player of Jankauskas’ quality is headed for American shores, it doesn’t mean he will turn his focus away from European soccer.
“It would be nice if he would come and play in the Premiership,” says Strioga. “Then that would really be fantastic!”
Jankauskas will wear the number 10 jersey when he lines out with the Revolution for the new season. As per MLS policy, the financial details of Jankauskas’ contract have not been disclosed to the media.

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