By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, February 21, 2016
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Ken Tribbett was signed by Bethlehem Steel FC in late January for the club’s inaugural season in the USL, but if the young center back continues to keep impressing for the Philadelphia Union as he has consistently this preseason, the possibility of an MLS contract might be drawing closer.
A finalist for the 2015 USL Rookie of the Year award with the Harrisburg City Islanders, Tribbett scored the opening goal for the Union on Saturday night in the club’s 2-0 win against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Field in the Suncoast Invitational, and also put in a solid 90-minute performance at the back as the Union continued to build toward its opening game in MLS on March 6.
“Getting your first goal is always fun. You always love scoring,” Tribbett said. “It’s definitely a confidence booster, and anything I can do to help myself get on the squad, I’m going to do, so I’m happy.”
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Tribbett scored three goals for the City Islanders as he played in every minute of every game for the club last season, one of only two players in the USL to accomplish that feat. Another player who did that was Richie Marquez, whose path from Harrisburg to Philadelphia Tribbett is aiming to emulate. According to Union Coach Jim Curtin, there are similarities between the two players.
“I think it’s very fair to compare the two,” Curtin said. “It shows the value of the USL and getting those games in that league is so, so positive for those guys. To get the comfort level there, and get the game minutes, or maybe they’re not quite ready for MLS, but then they come in now and they’re ready, they’re more than ready.
“I’ll never forget Marquez going into his first game and having to deal with [2015 MLS MVP Sebastian] Giovinco, and he did well, so again it’s a situation where that league prepares them.”
Tribbett has made a strong progression through the ranks over the past two years, first helping the Michigan Bucks claim the PDL Championship before his senior season at Drexel, and then becoming a key figure for the City Islanders in 2015.
When Steel FC approached him about joining the club this season, it was a chance Tribbett was eager to take up.
“Anytime a good club with quality players wants you, it’s a good sign,” Tribbett said. “I’m happy to be here with the Steel. I’m happy to be here with the Union, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep progressing my career.”After Saturday night’s performance, the next step in Tribbett’s career might arrive sooner rather than later.