By NICHOLAS MURRAY – email@example.com
Monday, March 7, 2016
Making the move from the west coast, where Mickey Daly had spent almost all of his soccer career, to join Bethlehem Steel FC took some adjustment for the rangy center back.
“The cold, for sure, is the biggest thing,” Daly said recently. “When I first got over here it was like 10 degrees or something like that, so the weather has definitely been the biggest surprise for me.”
In the grand scheme of things, though, it was a move that Daly felt was an important one for his playing career. In the past year, the 6-foot-2 center back has seen the stream of his contemporaries make the move from the USL to Major League Soccer. In joining Steel FC, which also saw him join the Philadelphia Union for part of its preseason, Daly hopes he can follow a similar path.
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“Yeah, that definitely had a big influence in it,” Daly said. “Just to be affiliated with an MLS team, to be constantly on their radar, under their watch, it’s definitely been a big factor.”
Named to the USL All-League Second Team a year ago with Sacramento, Daly has grown to become one of the most consistent performers in the league since his debut with Wilmington Hammerheads FC in 2013. After helping Sacramento Republic FC to back-to-back playoff appearances, and a championship in its inaugural season, Daly said it was a tough decision to move on.
“It wasn’t easy to leave a club like Sacramento Republic,” Daly said. “I have family back in California, so it was hard to leave, but from a career standpoint it was a good choice for me, a good chance.”
The lessons he brings with him from Sacramento will likely be valuable for Steel FC as it enters its inaugural season in the league. There is an experienced core within the squad, including captain Ryan Richter and goalkeeper Samir Badr, and players like Bolu Akinyode and Gabe Gissie, who made the move with Daly from Sacramento.
The group will be under the leadership of Head Coach Brendan Burke, who brings a strong pedigree from his success leading the Union’s PDL affiliate Reading United AC and being an assistant coach for the Union itself. Daly said he’s enjoying what Burke brings as a coach.
“He’s a great guy,” Daly said of Burke. “All of us really, really like him as a coach. He expects the most out of us, and if we’re not performing he’ll tell us, and expect more out of us. He expects us to always be improving, so I’ve really enjoyed playing for him so far.”
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While it will probably be difficult for Steel FC to emulate the success Daly found with Sacramento in its inaugural season, the center back believes his new team understands what it will take to find success out of the gate.“Just be patient,” Daly said. “Sometimes things don’t go right. It can take a little bit, but I feel like this team being affiliated with the Union, they’ve been doing stuff right so far. It’s been good. Sometimes there are some little hiccups, but once the season gets going, it’ll get into a smooth flow.”