Like every soccer player, Brian Span’s goal is simple, he just wants to play. Unfortunately, he wasn’t getting much of a chance to do that with FC Dallas. So far this season, Span (22), who FCD won the rights to in a weighted lottery on January 9th, has only played in two Reserve League games thus far, including one start.
So, when the opportunity to gain some much-needed minutes and games elsewhere arose, it was something he and the FCD coaching staff wanted to explore.
“The coach has his players that he wants to play right now and I haven’t broken through and the team’s on a roll. They’re winning a lot of games,” Span said. “They’re in a situation where they are winning and have players that are in form and it wasn’t my time yet with them, so I felt I should probably go play and enjoy it.”
Span, who spent the past two seasons with Djurgardens IF of the Swedish top division, was loaned out to Orlando City SC of USL PRO last week. The loan is technically for the entire 2014 season but FCD can recall him at any time if necessary.
“I wanted to play games,” Span said by phone from Orlando. “With the lack of games being played, I felt I need to be somewhere I could play games so I could get back into a rhythm of playing game in and game out. That’s the best way for me to achieve my best ability and my best form.”
When FCD won his rights in January, it was thought that Span, who played two years at the University of Virginia before turning pro, would hopefully challenge for a starting spot at right midfield.
Dallas had a vacancy there heading into preseason because FCD had traded Jackson, the talented yet enigmatic attacker who delivered as many boneheaded moments as spectacular plays during his colorful tenure in Frisco, to Toronto FC after last season.
However, during preseason, Je-Vaughn Watson, who played all over the midfield last season under now former FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman, claimed that spot as his own. Watson has started there in Dallas’ first five matches of 2014 and currently leads FCD with three goals.
Newcomer Andres Escobar, who joined the team on loan from Dynamo Kiev in February, had been seeing minutes there off the bench, appearing in FCD’s first two matches before a back injury lingering from preseason put him on the shelf several weeks ago.
But even with the ranks a bit thin on the right flank, Span was still unable to break through and earn any first-team minutes. In fact, he has yet to appear on the 18-man game roster in any of FCD’s first five matches, so last week he learned he would be loaned out, an announcement made official on Thursday.
“I had discussions about it with the coaches a couple weeks ago. They said they would think about it. When they thought about it, they said it would be a good idea but they wanted me to be somewhere with a professional environment and they could call me back at any time,” Span said.
Span trained with FCD last Monday and Tuesday but by Wednesday, he had already headed to the Sunshine State even before news of his loan surfaced. Orlando City opened the 2014 season on Saturday with a 2-1 win against Rochester. Span was among the 18 for that victory but did not see the field against the Rhinos.
“That was like my second or third day here but I didn’t play. I almost went in at the beginning of the first half when a player got injured. For the next couple (games), I know I’m going to play,” Span said. “I know what level of player I am and know I can do really well in this league.”
Some players might lament being loaned to a club in a lower division than MLS but this young flank midfielder is going to make the most out of this experience.
“This is my first time playing in this league and for Orlando City. It’s a good program. They have some really good coaches, some good players. They had an outstanding year last year. To come in here, it’s similar to an MLS team,” Span said.
Orlando City is just starting their 2014 season but there is already one interesting date looming on the schedule, an April 22 trip to Frisco to face the FCD Reserves. Span admits it will be a bit strange to play against his Dallas teammates but he also knows sometimes that’s just part of the game.
“Yeah, it’s going to be a little bit strange but at the same time, it’s football. When you get on the pitch, it’s all business,” he said.
Even though at least on paper, his loan is for the entire season, Span knows how quickly things can change with the first team. So, he’s going to take full advantage of the chance to play consistent minutes in USL-PRO and do all he can to ensure that he plays so well that FCD has no choice but to bring him back before the end of the season.
“I’m coming here to play games. I just want to play. The loan’s a full season long, but in a couple of months, they’re going to be following me and if they see how I’m doing and maybe they’re short a couple players, need a couple players,” Span said.
He added: “They’re in ridiculous form right now, but it’s hard to keep that up the whole season. Who knows what’s going to happen. They might come to a point where they need a change up and they see that I’m doing good and they might have to bring me back.”