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 - On bench, did not play (injury)
Week seven marked an unfortunate moment for Alan Winn, as the young forward was slated to start the team’s match against Penn FC, but was ruled out at the last minute due to an injury.
While Nashville SC surely missed his attacking presence in a scoreless draw, the team was able to seize a valuable road point with a staunch defensive performance. The shutout was Nashville SC’s fourth of the season, previously recording three in a row from March 24 to April 7 before the Indy Eleven put a few past them in week five. The first-year club sits tied with Orange County SC and FC Cincinnati for fewest goals conceded this year, and goalkeeper Matt Pickens’ four clean sheets are second-best in the league.
While Winn did unfortunately miss the match he was originally slated to start, the good news is that the knock wasn’t serious and he was back in full practice within days. After a strong start to the season that saw him rise to a regular starter, he can be expected to return to action in week eight against New York Red Bulls II
“The reason why I didn’t play - I was supposed to start - but I didn’t play because I had a little knock on my foot that was bothering me so much. It wasn’t worth it to push it overboard and make it to where I can’t play a lot of games. But I practiced today, it felt phenomenal and I’ll be ready to go Sunday for sure. I’m pumped for New York.”
“It’s the same mindset as playing every team. You go in focused on their strengths and weaknesses and try to attack it with the philosophy we have. So nothing really changes, we just have to do what we do better.”
“They have a great philosophy going forward on the counter-attack with their offensive line. I know a couple of guys on the team from college and past club experiences, and they are very good on the counter and good at working the ball in their opponents’ final third. They’re not afraid to keep it and make that one extra pass and that’s what their strong suits are. Hopefully we can catch them on a counter when they’re all up the field and we can condition faster. That’ll be a huge asset to our game. They’re a very talented team, including Brian White who was at Duke. He and I would always talk about who would get the most goals each season and talk about the matches when we played each other in college. Also Evan Louro, who is one of my better friends from my residency, so hopefully I can stick one in the back of the net while he’s in there.”
“I actually played with him at North Carolina FC my junior year. I was at NCFC but I got hurt, so I couldn’t really play much during that summer. But he was on that team as well and that’s when we first met. It was good fun.”
“So it varies from team to team, coach to coach and what the players want really. We went with a thinking process of, ‘Why don’t we hit the ground running?” It’s still - not early in the season, but we’re still in the beginning stage. We went a little harder and more of a tactical angle, what we want to do, what our philosophies are, how we’re supposed to press. I think that’s pretty similar to most teams. But it depends. Some teams do a little more fitness, some teams take the time off, it varies really.”
“I would say our experience is a huge asset for us right now. We’ve got Matt Pickens in goal, David Edgar and Liam Doyle in defense, along with Bradley Bourgeois and Kosuke Kimura. We’ve got a whole host of guys with a lot of experience back there. So that helps a lot. Now the next step is to transition that defensive mindset and add a little offense to it. When we do add that, and I feel we will soon enough, we’ll be a very dangerous team to compete with.”
“I didn’t do a whole lot differently. I was just coming off the spring college season. The summer is huge for keeping your form for the upcoming fall season. The PDL is important and you want to win it all, but the big thing is you don’t want to lose form. A lot of kids don’t realize if you don’t do PDL and keep your form, you’ll lose it, and that’s a great gateway to moving to the next level. Because everyone is doing PDL now, and if you don’t, you’re behind. It’s a great way of looking ahead and seeing what your season will look like in the fall.”