When Sunil arrived in Kansas City, he looked a bit lost in practice. He was completely out of sync with his teammates and was clearly not used to the speed of the play in MLS. His skill with the ball, finishing touch and nose for the goal were undeniable though.
The first couple weeks were pretty tough on Sunil. He was trying to adjust to a new country, a new team, a new sleep schedule and a much faster and more physical style of play. His coaches and teammates welcomed him and helped ease the transition.
Each practice I attended Sunil improved. His passes became crisper, more on target. He was learning where his teammates were and where they would be. He was adapting his runs and learning how to play with bigger opponents.
Interestingly though, for being one of the shorter players on the field he does not have any issue with going up and routinely winning headers against much taller players. In fact he is one of the best on the team in the air.
So good in fact, that he helps others. After practice on Thursday, a coach had pulled one of the younger players to the side to work on snapping headers down and to the side. After a couple minutes of unsuccessful teaching, he pulled Chhetri over to demonstrate. Sunil and the other player alternated jumping up, heading a ball down over an obstacle and into a small practice goal. When Chhetri would miss or bounce one off the goal post he would demand another try, unwilling to fail.
This accurately demonstrates Sunil.
Willing to try over and over.
Unwilling to fail.
While I still think Chhetri is not ready to start in MLS, I would not be surprised if he makes it onto the bench in the near future.
Sunil Chhetri during the Brass game...
Sunil during the game against the Brass