By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, March 4, 2016
As someone who has spent the past two years competing in inaugural seasons, Harrison Delbridge has an understanding of what it takes for FC Cincinnati to vault to the top of the USL in its first year.
After all, the 23-year-old defender saw it all fit into place as he began his professional career with Sacramento Republic FC, which ended its first season with a championship.
“I think in any sort of success there’s a good bit of luck, but also that was a hard-working group, kind of like we have here,” Delbridge said comparing the two experiences. “They had a great staff, they had a great message for the year, and I think we have a very similar group here – high-caliber players, unbelievable coaches and amazing ownership and front office staff. It reminds me of Sacramento when I first got here, and I think it’ll be a great set-up for us.”
Delbridge made 27 regular-season appearances that season for Republic FC, including 13 starts, as Sacramento roared into life with record-setting crowds, and entertaining soccer.
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As it enters its first season, Cincinnati has similar aspirations. Led by Head Coach John Harkes, the club is built around a strong group of players with MLS and USL experience such as Austin Berry, Kenney Walker and Sean Okoli. Getting to play alongside players of that caliber was a major selling point as Delbridge joined the squad in its second group of signings.
“I first talked to John Harkes and Ryan Martin, and got an idea of their intentions for the club, and they talked to me about the people behind the club and the sort of management they had,” Delbridge said. “They wanted a tight-knit group of players, and just seeing the sort of players they brought in and the sort of organization they were setting up, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
A native of Australia, Delbridge and his family moved to the U.S. when he was young when his father’s work brought him across the Pacific. A former member of the PDL’s Ventura County Fusion, Delbridge last season played for the Portland Timbers 2, and has aspirations to at some point join former teammates like 2016 Chicago Fire SuperDraft signing Brandon Vincent in making the jump to MLS.
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To achieve that, Delbridge believes he’ll need to not only raise his game, but also help bring success to Cincinnati.
“I think success brings a lot of opportunity,” Delbridge said. “I know Cincinnati has high ambitions looking at MLS. I think getting a lot of success and getting games and experience with the coaching staff we have, with the players that I’m surrounded by, being around them makes you better, and puts you on a better platform.”
After an undefeated run in Florida at the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic that saw Delbridge net a dramatic winner against New York City FC, the club certainly seems on the right path.“I’m competitive, and I think we have a group that can win games,” Delbridge said. “I’m looking forward to being successful, and playing with some of the guys here. The talent is awesome, and the message the coaches are putting forward is so awesome, I’m excited to be part of the group.”