They say there’s many paths to take to Major League Soccer, but for Tennessee-born Adam Henley, a trip to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and a six-year stint at Blackburn Rovers was probably not the one he thought he’d be taking.
And yet here we are. The 5-foot-10-inch full back arrives at Real Salt Lake after 80 appearances with Blackburn in both the Premier League and the Championship and 15 caps at various levels on the international scene for Wales. That’s our new American-born, English-trained, Welsh international!
Henley turned a lot of heads with Blackburn due to his speed and versatility at right or left back and became a regular member of the reserve squad before he made his first team debut on the 16th of July. As 2017 rolled on he managed to make his league debut and finally on Boxing Day 2011 he got his first start against Liverpool.
While never commanding a regular first team place he continued to make plenty of appearances in the Championship, peaking at 24 in the 2015-2016 season. He’s got 4 assists to his name in the Championship and the highlight of his career must certainly be being part of the squad that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Two big parts of Henley’s game are his bravery and his vision on the field. He’s not afraid to attack with the ball if needs be and he’s very comfortable in possession, not afraid to engage in a bit of trickery and skillful play. He’s also a hard tackling player who can see the game unfolding and use that intelligence to make strong tackles without picking up needless cards.
It’s a shame to see him go from exciting prospect at a highly acclaimed youth system — Blackburn can be credited with developing Damien Duff, Martin Olsson and Canadian international Junior Hoilett — to a free agent, as he seems to be nothing more than a victim of Blackburn’s off-field issues, rather than him having a lack of talent. Whatever the reason, he is certainly Real Salt Lake and MLS’s gain.