*Chad Ochocinco’s flirtation with soccer will last a little bit longer than expected.
The six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals, who says he actually preferred soccer to football as a youngster, began a four-day trial with MLS team Sporting Kansas City Wednesday as a way to stay fit and keep busy during the NFL lockout.
Today (March 25), the team asked Ochocinco to play in their reserve team’s game Monday against a local squad, according to the AP.
The athlete admitted he’s a bit rusty because he hadn’t played since the 10th grade. He also seemed nervous and a bit out of shape on his first day.
A Sporting KC spokesman said Ochocinco appeared much more comfortable the next day and will play Monday against the Kansas City Brass, a minor league team.
“This is not unusual,” team spokesman Dave Borchardt said. “They like for trialists to have a chance to play in at least one game, a chance to be evaluated even further. It’s the same opportunity that is given most trialists.”
Ochocinco, currently engaged to “Basketball Wives” star Evelyn Lozada, said this week that once football owners and players work out their differences, he’ll be back running pass patterns for the Bengals. But he also insisted he is sincere in wanting to play soccer.
“There a lot of people who question how serious I am about it. But for those who know me, who know my background, this is where it all started,” he said.
He also said he would play for free.
“I’m pretty much set for a while,” he said.
Ochocinco’s desire to give the sport a shot has drawn criticism from the coach of the Bengals, Marvin Lewis, who said earlier this week in reference to his player’s tryout: “What has he ever done that he’s completed? What circle has he ever connected in any way?”
Ochocinco responded to his coach’s comments via Twitter: “Marvin Lewis won’t say anything bad about Carson Palmer, stays kissing his ass, but disses @ochocinco daily #smh,” he wrote.
On Friday via his Twitter feed, Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley referred to Ochocinco as a “clown” for trying out for the MLS team.