BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
My next move was to Cincinnati, Ohio. It hadn’t exactly been on my list of dream football destinations, but it ended up being exactly what I needed.
I joined another start-up club coming into the USL for the first time, and just like Sacramento Republic, FC Cincinnati were a club that did a lot of things right.
They signed a really good coach, John Harkes, who was one of the first American players to go over to England and have a successful career, and from my first meeting with him, it was like a breath of fresh air.
John said he knew what I could do and that he wanted to get me comfortable in a new team, so I could just focus on playing football again. That was exactly what I needed.
The rest of the team had pretty much all been established MLS players. I knew that if I could do well in that environment, I’d be up to the challenge of playing at a higher level.
The next two seasons were the best of my career. I got back to playing well, in a team that played good football, kept possession and tried to break teams down.
We played in front of 24,000 fans every home game and I felt part of the community. I’d be on the field and hear chants of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ coming down from the stands.
I feel very lucky to have had those experiences.
Off the pitch, Lauren and I went back to having a strong relationship, even after she moved to Texas and then California for work. But heading into our fourth year of living apart, we decided that whatever move I made next, we’d do it together.
I got the call from Melbourne City halfway through my second year with Cincinnati.
We played in front of 24,000 fans every home game and I felt part of the community. I’d be on the field and hear chants of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ coming down from the stands. I feel very lucky to have had those experiences.
I thought Lauren might be a bit hesitant, but I asked her if she was up to moving to the other side of the world with me and she replied instantly.
“Shit yeah,” she said.
She took a big risk, leaving a good job and uprooting her life, but she’s been unreal through it all. She’s found a new job, working as a business development manager for a software company in Melbourne. Being able to live together at last has been awesome.
We bought a dog, a chocolate Labrador called Bella and we got engaged! We couldn’t be happier with how things have worked out.
WE CAN WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP
I had a bit of a slow start to my time at Melbourne City, coming in halfway through last season.
I felt a bit off the pace and was playing a few different positions, so it was hard to settle. I was also placing way too much pressure on myself.
In my third game with the club, against Central Coast, I got a straight red card about 25 minutes in for a bad tackle on their striker. We were already 1-0 down, and I hadn’t been playing well, so it was a horrible moment for me.
My heart just sunk. I remember walking into the change rooms, listening to the game going on outside, and thinking that I’d blown my opportunity at the club.
Since then, I’ve really focused on not letting my thoughts control how I play so I could get back to trusting my instincts.
There’s no doubt that we had some ups and downs last season, but it’s from those difficult moments that you grow both as an individual and as a team.
That’s all in the past now, we’ve addressed that, and we know we’ve got it in us to make this season something special.
Erick [Mombaerts] and the new boys have brought a great sense of positivity. We’re enjoying a new attacking style of football and the chemistry amongst the team has been really good.
We’ve started the season off strongly, qualifying for the FFA Cup final, and we have high ambitions for what we can collectively achieve.