Ricketts prepares for USA MLS final

The former Bradford City goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts is one game away from being a national champion after his LA Galaxy side’s 2-0 play off success over Houston earned the United States team a place in next Sunday’s MLS final.

The highlights of the game show Ricketts playing a prominent role with a string of excellent saves that laid on the platform for two extra time strikes. While naturally the media focuses on the belated success David Beckham is enjoying from his oft-criticised spell in the USA, the achievements of the Jamican international since returing across the Atlantic are a talking point around Valley Parade too.

It’s five years since Ricketts was first brought to City by then-manager Colin Todd, with Damion Stewart and Jermaine Johnson quickly following. Stewart soon went onto bigger things with QPR and is still a regular at Loftus Road, despite playing under a whopping nine different managers since his arrival in 2006. Shortly after the Jamaican defender departed, the Jamaican winger Johnson arrived. ‘JJ’ was an instant hit and, with bills to pay in January 2007, was quickly sold onto Sheffield Wednesday. Despite some ups and downs, Johnson is still a regular at Hillsborough and recently passed 100 appearances for the club.

And though it wasn’t all plain sailing, Ricketts too has been able to use a move to Valley Parade as a springboard to better things. Initially it appeared he too was heading to QPR in January 2008, but work permit problems left a spell in wilderness before hooking up with Beckham and co at the start of the 2009 MLS season. Ricketts has earned rave reviews from LA Galaxy supporters this season and appears to have reached the levels of popularity he once enjoyed for a time at City. Meanwhile the Bantams have struggled to replace him and ironically the present incumbent between the Valley Parade sticks has similar characterisitcs to the Jamaican – Simon Eastwood is a superb shot stopper but struggles to command his penalty area.

The memories of City fans rushing to the front of the Kop to yell abuse during a 3-0 home defeat to Accrington must seem distant as he prepares for Sunday’s final; but like Stewart and Johnson, Ricketts will surely remain grateful for his time in West Yorkshire and the difference it made to his career.

Meanwhile the fourth of Todd’s recruits from the Carribean has some catching up to do.