Something to Prove
Memphis 901 FC
I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder.
I think, at some level, to make it as a professional day in and day out, you need to. You need to have that motivation to constantly keep pushing. Keep challenging yourself to do more. Score more goals. Be a better teammate. Show the coach that he put his trust in the right player.
That chip on my shoulder came with me from Tampa Bay to Memphis 901 FC, a club I’d played against only once before back when I was with Loudoun United FC. That was one of the first games in Memphis 901 FC’s history and the fans really made an impression on me. The atmosphere they bring, combined with our coach, Ben Pirmann, has created something really special, so when I got the chance to be a part of it during this past offseason, it was an easy choice.
Looking back, it was the best move for me. Being part of that 2020 postseason run with the Rowdies was a huge opportunity for me and a unique experience -- especially with the pandemic -- but in the end, I still felt like I had something to prove.
I was ready for the next challenge.
When we showed up for preseason in April, post-pandemic, it truly felt like a fresh start. We only had a few returnees -- Mark Segbers, Raul Gonzalez, Zach Carroll -- but many of us were there for the first time because Ben believed in us. And because we were hungry. But, hunger or not, it takes awhile for a new group like that to really jell as a team. I think we all knew we had something special from the start. You couldn’t look around that locker room and not see the potential we had. It was only a matter of time.
Still, it took more than a month into the season for me to open my account for 2021. We were at Indy, there was a deflection and I was right there so I tapped it in. Any forward will tell you, getting that first goal of the season under your belt is a huge relief. This year, for me, it was a game-changer. I really just hit my stride from there.
It’s been quite the season for me. I’ve scored a personal best 20 goals and surpassed 40 regular-season goals in my career. In the middle of the summer, I got on a roll and scored in six straight games. When I look at it like that, spelled out in front of me, I can’t help but be proud of what I’ve accomplished on an individual level this season. I feel like I’ve proven our coaching staff was right to put their faith in me. Of course, I had the help of a really talented group of teammates as well.
When I think back to that first match at AutoZone Park, when I was with Loudoun, I think about how the 901 FC fans showed up for their club. Now, being on the other side of it, I’ve felt that this season. They continue to show up, match after match, for their team. For Ben. For me. For all of us. They deserve playoff soccer and it means a lot that I could help bring it to them for the first time in the club’s history.
But, like I said, the chip on my shoulder never quite goes away. Even with all that I’ve accomplished this season, I don’t feel like I’m done yet. After all, that’s what the playoffs are about. That’s what we, as professional athletes, are about. We push all season to prove we’re worthy of making it to the postseason. Now, we’re here. The playoffs are just getting started and so are we.