By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
After an underwhelming 2015 for Wilmington Hammerheads FC, attacking midfielder Sunny Jane wanted to make a fresh start in the new year.
After an offseason move to the Richmond Kickers, the 24-year-old Lesotho international believes he has found just the right place to accomplish that.
“I always liked the way Richmond plays, and everything,” Jane said recently. “They have a good style of play, and I had heard good things about Richmond. When I was in college at the University of Maryland, Richmond was one of the teams we played in the preseason, and I always liked the way they play. I like the area a lot as well, so it was an easy decision for me to make.”
- RELATED: Jane Makes Move to Kickers for 2016
Jane had a solid rookie season for Wilmington, as his five goals and three assists helped push the Hammerheads into the playoffs in 2014. Last year, though, nothing seemed to go right on either a personal level – Jane scored only twice – or for the team overall as it finished last in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, by their standards, the Kickers also had a disappointing season. After claiming the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, Richmond fell in the conference quarterfinals to the Charleston Battery.
Despite the efforts of All-League selection Jason Yeisley, Richmond finished in the middle of the pack in the league’s attacking statistics too. With Jane looking forward to linking up with the veteran forward, the Kickers are hoping to prove more prolific in front of goal this season.
“Yeisley has been one of the best strikers in the USL, and he’s always goal-hungry, so I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Jane said. “I’ve always seen how exciting that team is, so I’m just looking forward to connecting with everybody and playing with everybody.”
Jane’s creativity was born on the streets of his home country, where he grew up until moving to the United States at the age of 13. Jane said those pick-up games were a way of life that he found hard to replicate in the United States, which took some adjusting to when he arrived in 2005.
“You find kids playing soccer on the streets, and it’s not like the American life where every other kid only plays soccer after class, or they stay in the house playing video games,” he said. “At home, we don’t have any of that, so all we did was play soccer outside, and that was the fun that we had. Everything we did was outside, so coming to America, it was very different because I was restricted more into adopting to the culture of America, not being able to just show up to somebody’s house and say, ‘hey, let’s play soccer,’ which I was able to do back home.”
His ability might have been best harnessed so far by legendary Maryland Coach Sasho Cirovski, for whom Jane played an important role as the Terrapins advanced to the College Cup in 2012 and 2013. Jane made 89 appearances for the Terrapins, and recorded eight goals and 19 assists, as he tried to soak in everything he could.
“University was one of the best times of my life,” Jane said. “Sasho is an amazing coach, and also an amazing mentor, and to me I feel like I wish had a little bit more time with him to learn everything with him, because he’s an amazing coach. Going to school at Maryland really taught me a lot, because to be honest, coming to America I didn’t speak English at all, and being there really helped me out with everything.”
Jane will also be reunited with one of his former Maryland teammates with the Kickers in Alex Lee, who has become one of Richmond’s reliable pieces since joining the club in 2013.
“Before I even signed with the Kickers, I was in discussion with [Alex],” Jane said. “He was one of the first people I told about it, and he was very excited about it. Obviously, in college we had a pretty good relationship, and we were always competitive with each other, so it’s going to be fun playing alongside him again.”
- RELATED: Expectations Remain High for Kickers
With the motivation of coming off a down year, and the chance to impress a new set of fans ahead of him, Jane is looking to help restore the Kickers to the top of the standings.“Obviously this year, I’m looking to win everything,” Jane said. “That’s my goal. It’s always my goal to win the regular season and to win the entire thing in the playoffs. I just want to be the best out there, and I’ve been working hard to make sure that happens.”