Anyone remember Alex Nimo? The 5’5″ winger was once a rising star in the U.S. ranks, playing for the Yanks in the 2007 U-17 World Cup. He was then taken by Real Salt Lake early in the second round of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. He never made a league appearance for the Salt Lakers, spending the 2009 and 2010 seasons on loan with the Portland Timbers v. 3.0. Following the 2010 season, his Generation adidas deal expired, and he was released by RSL after making it clear that he’d rather stay with his hometown Timbers.
He pretty much vanished at that point. I looked him up now and then, but I assumed that he and Fuad Ibrahim had teamed up to form a folk band to tour the country. Instead, after a one-year sabbatical, he has emerged in Eastern Europe. First, he trialed with a lower-division Polish club. Now, he has signed a two-year deal with JK Tammeka Tartu in Estonia.
Tammeka is a consistently mediocre Estonian club. Since their promotion to the top flight in 2005, they have finished 6th or 7th in every season but 2007, where they finished 5th. (There are ten clubs in the Meistriliiga.) The league is somewhat unbalanced— Tammeka finished with a -57 goal differential in 2009 but wasn’t relegated, and Lasnamäe Ajax finished with a jaw-dropping -181 goal differential last season. It does offer ridiculous odds of European competition— 30% of the league qualifies for Champions League or Europa League in addition to the winners of the Estonian Cup.
It sounds like more mediocrity is expected this year, according to the Slavic Football Union:
Tammeka will miss their young Flora-bound players and have also lost Siim Tenno and Kaarel Kiidron to Viktoria Žižkov in Prague and another season in the lower half of the table seems likely. Former striker Kristjan Tiirik has taken the hotseat left by Marko Kristal. They have added defenders Rauno Tutk from Viljandi and Maido Pakk from Finnish side AC Kajaani to their squad. Paide will want to build on last season’s respectable sixth place finish. Coach Meelis Rooba has done wonders with the part-timers and may well earn himself a chance at a bigger club if he continues in 2012. After a strong start in 2011, Sillamäe spent nearly the entire season in fifth place and look like they may do so again. They are now led by the experienced former Trans and Levadia coach Valeri Bondarenko.
Viljandi, Kuressaare and Tallinna Kalev could well be battling it out at the bottom, but will hope not to match FC Ajax’s unenviable record of going a whole season without a Meistriliiga win. Rimo Hunt moving to Levadia will not have aided Tallinna Kalev’s chances of staying up and Kuressaare will also miss the outgoing Pukk to Flora. Daniil Ratnikov returns to the Meistriliiga from Cherno More in Bulgaria to play under his father, Sergei, at Kalev.
While in Tartu, Nimo will experience some interesting culture. The city of 100,000 was settled in the 5th century AD and was certainly established by 1262. It was a member of the Hanseatic League and is home to the University of Tartu, founded by the legendary Swedish King Gustavus Aldolphus in 1632, alma mater to two Nobel Prize laureates, and famous for its botanical gardens.