For many soccer players, rookie seasons can be make-or-break campaigns as they try to break into the professional ranks and show they have the stuff to compete at the highest levels of the sport.
The hard work, learning curve and earning of trust that goes into breaking through can often remain unseen behind-the-scenes. But in a new season-long series, Nashville SC rookie forward and Tobacco Road FC alum Alan Winn pulls back that curtain and takes us along on his journey through his first professional season in the United Soccer League.
Welcome to the PDL Alumni Diary.
Alan Winn - Started, played 90 minutes and scored ONE GOAL in Nashville SC’s 2-0 win vs. Bethlehem Steel FC - 85.3 percent passing accuracy
Week four marked a major occasion in the career of Alan Winn, as well as the history of Nashville SC, as each marked a historic achievement.
In his second consecutive start, it took Winn less than a half an hour to have a major impact on the match. In the 24th minute, Charlotte Independence defender Henry Kalungi slipped on a ball over the top, allowing Winn through into the box in a two-on-one situation. After a quick glance up, Winn cut the ball inside onto his left foot, freeing enough space to bend a curling strike beyond everyone and into the back of the net for his first career goal.
His debut on the scoresheet marked a 1-0 advantage for Nashville SC, which the club wouldn’t relinquish, ultimately picking up the first home win in franchise history, 2-0. The victory marked the second overall for Nashville SC, bolstering the club’s record to 2-1-1 and seemingly improving each week.
“It was very exciting. Obviously you always want to get that first one off the table, off your belt, because those are the hardest ones while you try to adapt and set yourself for what’s to come. I’m very grateful for how it happened, and hopefully I can do the same thing over and over again each week.”
“I made a run in behind and Kosuke [Kimura] played it a little short, and the defender slipped. That got Sam Vines, their right back, to hesitate and go inside towards the box, which also dragged the center defender inside. I was looking up to try and cross it in, but there was nobody in the box, so it was a kind of quick instinct reaction to cut it back and took a touch forward. I saw the opening and I thought shooters shoot, so you’ve got to take a shot if you want to score, and that was my mentality.”
“That was amazing. I actually ran to the crowd and- it’s a baseball field, a beautiful baseball field and the pitch is amazing, the fans were amazing who came out- but the problem was I was trying to run to the fans and they were in the outfield, so the wall was ten feet high. So I couldn’t get towards the fans and I had to run towards the center of the field to get to people, and when I saw them I just kind of jumped on them. It was a very exciting moment not only for me, but for Nashville, and I want to keep scoring for them.”
“He said he was very pleased with the goal. But I’ve told him from the beginning that I have a very high standard for myself, so he sets a high standard for me. Of course he said I had a really good game, but he wants me to have the same performance each week, that consistency is going to be the key. So he did praise my performance, but I agree with him that I want to do it each week. I don’t just want this game to define who I am, I want to do it on a consistent basis and each week have people come by and say, ‘Wow, we want to watch this kid because he does it on a consistent basis.’”
“It’s the same mentality as a home game. You have to take each game the same, have your same rituals and routines. You just have to focus on what your philosophies and what your goals are as a team. You don’t change because of what the other team has, or the crowd, you just stick with your same philosophies. Maybe the pitch being different could adjust some things, but we don’t have a different mindset when we’re going away from home.”
“The hardest one was definitely when I was 17 years old with the U.S. U17 Men’s National Team and we played in Argentina. We played in this tournament and faced Chile in the semifinals and we beat them, and there were about 2,000 people at that game. But we advanced to the finals and faced Argentina, and forget which stadium we played in but there were 20,000 Argentinean fans and that was the craziest I’ve ever seen. The passion, the excitement, there were these firecrackers being thrown behind the goal. When they scored, you couldn’t even hear yourself think. I thought to myself wow, this is unbelievable, and that was definitely the hardest environment I’ve ever had to play in.”