Chhetri released by Sporting Kansas City

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New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) Sunil Chhetri has been released byMajor League Soccer side Sporting Kansas City, shattering theIndian striker''s great American dream after playing justone official match and without being fielded in an MLSfixture.

Chhetri, who became only the second Indian footballer ofpost-Independence era to join a professional league sideabroad -- the first being Bhaichung Bhutia -- when he signedfor Sporting Kansas City in March last year, has not beenpicked for the 2011 season by the club.

"Sporting Kansas City did not pick up Sunil Chhetri''soption for 2011," Sporting Kansas City vice-presidentCommunications Rob Thomson told PTI.

Thomson did not give any reason for Chhetri''s release butAmerican media reports suggest that coach Peter Vermes was notkeen to continue with the Indian striker because of limitimposed on the number of international players in a team.

Sporting Kansas are set to lose one international playerslot by the end of this year and apparently the club, whichwas earlier known as Kansas City Wizards, wants to replaceChhetri with another foreigner who can feature in the playingXI.

The future of Chhetri, who failed to break into SportingKansas City roster last year, had been in doubt ever since hewas placed on the transfer list during the MLS Drafts lastmonth as one of the nine unprotected players from the club.

Chhetri made only one official appearance for SportingKansas, starting in the team''s Lamer Hunt Open Cup qualifieragainst Colorado Rapids a month after his signing. He pickedup a yellow card and was substituted at halftime as SportingKansas lost 1-2.

Chhetri''s other appearances were all in reservefriendlies though he played against top English Premier Leagueside Manchester United for 21 minutes as a second-halfsubstitute in July last year.

With Sporting Kansas releasing him, Chhetri is nowwithout a club, though reports had claimed that AustralianA-League side Perth Glory are interested in him.

Perth Glory Director of Football, Dave Mitchell, was inDoha last month and watched Chhetri play for India in theAsian Cup, but there seemed to be little progress on thatfront.

There is the option of Chhetri returning to his formerclub, I-League champions Dempo, but the officials of the Goanclub said there was no plan to bring him back as of now. PTIPDS AH

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