By NICHOLAS MURRAY – email@example.com
Friday, March 18, 2016
As a native of St. Louis, defender A.J. Cochrane always kept an eye out for how Saint Louis FC was faring in its first season in the USL.
Now, as one of the club’s new additions for the 2016 season, Cochran is excited to be home, and eager to make a difference.
“It’s very exciting to be home, kinda back where it all started,” Cochran said this week. “I haven’t been back home for a long period of time, since I was a junior in high school, so to first of all see how far professional soccer has come in this city just over the past year … everything is going in the right direction.”
A former member of the Houston Dynamo, Cochran was just one of the many alumni of the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Academy to reach the professional ranks. A standout at Wisconsin in college, during which time he also played in the PDL for the Michigan Bucks and K-W United FC, Cochran was pleased when the coaches and leaders of the club brought professional soccer back to one of America’s soccer hotbeds in 2014.
Growing up as part of the club, and looking up to SLSG alumni like Tim Ream, Tommy Meyer, Will Bruin and Brad Davis, the local soccer community has always held a special place for Cochran no matter where his competitive journey took him.
“Ever since I was younger, I always wanted to impress and make my parents’ generation proud,” Cochran said. “It was very cool to come from a special, close community. You come back today and you can go and see people you played with when you were eight or nine years old, so honestly it’s like a special community. I really enjoyed being a part of the academy and going to the college showcases and traveling the country with some great coaches and some of my best friends, and playing against the best talent my age in the country. That was probably my favorite couple of years in St. Louis in terms of playing.”
After spending part of this offseason with some of Saint Louis FC’s returning players, Cochran is hopeful he can help bring success to the World Wide Technology Soccer Park this year. After an inaugural season that saw the club face some growing pains, particularly on home turf, a late season push has the club optimistic of a strong year ahead.
For Cochran, putting a product on the field that matches the support the club saw in the stands last season in a top priority.
“The St. Louligans travel tremendously, and no matter what situation we would go into last season in terms of how we were doing, the St. Louligans would come out in full support, and so would St. Louis,” Cochran said. “That just dramatically speaks to how awesome our fan-base is here in St. Louis.”
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Back home, and with a solid preseason almost completed, Cochran is ready to help Saint Louis FC push forward.
“I think we are taking the right steps this preseason to have a very successful year this year,” Cochran said. “With our coaching staff and the players, returning players and new players, we have some fantastic veterans, we’ve got good young guys, [and] I think we could have the potential to be a very successful team in the USL this year.“We understand we’ve got to go on the road and pick up points, which is going to be very tough because there’s a lot of good teams in the Western Conference, but we’re excited and up for the challenge. This offseason we’ve all developed very good relationships with each other, and they’re only going to get stronger in the weeks to come, so there’s definitely some very positive things ahead for Saint Louis FC.”