UPPER MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Most international players complain about the travel in MLS. Long hours of air travel to away matches is the norm in this league, and the jetlag takes an emotional and physical toll on the bodies of European players used to making road trips via team bus or train.
First-year MLS player and Estonian international Joel Lindpere, on the other hand, actually likes the road trips. And it has nothing to do with the frequent flyer miles he is racking up.
Lindpere has been an important part of the New York Red Bulls’ success this season as he has helped the team to first place in the Eastern Conference through his solid play in central midfield and, recently, along the left flank.
When he signed with the club in preseason, Lindpere said a big reason why he wanted to come to MLS was not just a new challenge but the chance to travel and see the United States. This season, the 29-year-old midfielder has had just that chance.
Los Angeles (twice), Denver, Seattle, Kansas City, Washington, Houston. The list goes on, with more than a dozen MLS cities providing postcards for Lindpere's collection. His exploits are now being chronicled by the lads at Metrofanatic, the largest fan site covering the club.
“I actually have that travel page on my computer as one of my favorites,” laughed Lindpere to MLSsoccer.com. “I go there every once in awhile, but they didn’t update it for a while so I am thinking maybe they went on vacation.”
Lindpere said that DC and Seattle were his two favorite spots to visit so far. The Emerald City really impressed him when he visited in April.
“It felt so much like a European city, I just liked wandering it,” Lindpere said. “I know they say it rains a lot there but I enjoyed just walking around downtown, shopping and exploring things. I think maybe that was my favorite visit so far.”
On the flip side, Lindpere says that his trip to Texas wasn’t that great. They say that everything is bigger in the Lone Star State. Unfortunately, that includes the reading on the thermometer. Lindpere was not terribly pleased with his sightseeing when the Red Bulls played the Houston Dynamo in July.
“We were leaving to go to the airport and we leave, like, downtown Houston to this part that was, how you say, empty and just not good and I didn’t like the area,” Lindpere said. “And it was hot, hot as hell. I just didn’t like it. It was so hot, you go outside and you just sweat for no reason.”
Lindpere now has just one regular season road trip left – to Philadelphia later this month – but he is looking forward to an away trip in the playoffs as well. And he’s hoping to make a return trip to Toronto this year for the MLS Cup final and repay the support of several dozen local Estonians who turned out to support him in August when the Red Bulls played at BMO Field.
Lindpere is also eyeing a return trip to the nation's capital. And not as a tourist – as a member of an MLS Cup-winning side invited to visit the White House and meet the president for a photo opportunity.
“That would be a good trip, I think,” Lindpere said. “That’s one I have to make happen for the whole team.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012