A few weeks back I did a feature on Brad Guzan, an Illinois native who plays for current English Premier League side Aston Villa FC. This time around, I thought I’d do a feature on the other two Illinois soccer players who play for Birmingham’s top two teams. Incidentally, they play on rival teams. One plays for Birmingham City FC, and the other is Brad Guzan’s Aston Villa team mate.
Eric Lichaj of Aston Villa FC is originally from Downer’s Grove and began his youth career with the Downer’s Grove Roadrunners before joining Chicago Magic. He played in the USL Premier development playing four games for the Chicago Fire Premier. He then signed with the Birmingham side where he plays as a defender.
Grandson of NBA basketball player Art Spector, Jonathan Spector was born and raised in Arlington Heights, a Chicago suburb. He has played for Chicago Sockers and Chicago Fire Reserves before being discovered by one of biggest clubs in the world, Manchester United, whilst playing for the American under 17’s. His senior career has seen him play for Manchester United, Charlton Athletic and West Ham United before being signed by Birmingham City FC. He plays in their defense.
In a previous post, I mentioned that Aston Villa FC and Birmingham City FC have an intense rivalry akin to that of the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Since both Illinois natives have found themselves on rival Birmingham teams, I wanted to spark the debate of which is the better club, and who is the better defender? Just for fun mind you!
Aston Villa FC plays in the English Premier League whereas Birmingham City FC plays in the Championship. The argument here can be made that Aston Villa are the bigger team right now as they play in the “big leagues.” But with their current position in the league, they may soon be joining Birmingham City FC in the Championship providing Birmingham City FC fail to win promotion to the Premier League.
Since Aston Villa FC is currently in the elite league, it can be agreed that Eric Lichaj is involved in higher profile matches than Jonathan Spector is. That’s no slight on the versatile defender. Beginning his career as a striker and being able to play in center midfield, Jonathan Spector could be the better overall soccer player.
Perhaps we will find out if next season both teams end up playing in the same league, and of course the inevitable meeting between the two teams and two players happen. Perhaps then we can see who plays their role as a defender for their team on the day better for bragging rights.
Let me know also who you think is the better team and player in the comments section below.
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