Ernie Merrick continued his overhaul of the Wellington Phoenix roster on Friday with the announcement of Kenny Cunningham's arrival. The 28-year-old Costa Rican winger moves to New Zealand on the recommendation of Carlos Hernández and signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix.
Said Merrick in a club press release:
"From the outset I said I wanted an attacking player who can come in from the wing and get into goal-scoring positions. It had to be someone with pace who has a credible footballing background. Kenny Cunningham ticks all those boxes. It is a major coup for the Phoenix to attract such a player."
Cunningham played in all four of Costa Rica's recent CONCACAF Gold Cup matches, starting three, including games against the United States, Belize and Honduras in the quarterfinals. He was also a second half substitute in the Ticos' two most recent World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Panama in June.
In addition to his time with the national team, Cunningham has played for big Costa Rican clubs Alajuelense and Herediano while most recently featuring at well known (and well named) Bolivian side, The Strongest. Before his Bolivia move, however, Cunningham spent a season in J-League Division 2 with Gainare Tottori.
Clearly Hernández had an effect on this signing, recommending his former Alajuelense teammate to Merrick. But the fact that he previously spent a season in Asia means Cunningham was much more likely to consider such an option for the next step in his career.