Port and starboard – boatsmen discovered ages ago that left and right get confusing when people are facing different directions. Whichever direction the boat or ship is facing determines left (port) and right (starboard). On the soccer field the same systems apply. A team’s left is determined not by the direction of the ball, but the side of the pitch to the keeper’s left.
That’s where Englishman, and UNC-Wilmington graduate, Danny Reynolds roams. He’s a left-footer who dominated his collegiate level earning the conference player of the year while leading his squad in assists and finishing second in goals scored. He can play three different roles – the bombing forward left back, a left centerback in a three-man backline, and as a traditional centerback on the left.
“At left back, I know that the coach here loves that they get forward. I love getting forward and contributing to goals and assists. That desire is brilliant in that sense.”
Put him in the middle and Reynolds is willing to defend the rail.
“When you play centerback, the focus is a little different. You have to focus solely on defending, rather than breaking lines with balls, which I feel very good with. It’s more of a different mentality with a different position.”
That mentality involves crunching tackles. Reynolds enjoys knocking bodies around a little.
“When you are playing against attackers you have to make sure that they know you are there. I definitely like getting into players, especially at the start of the game. I have to make sure that they know they are in a game.”
He’ll play mostly on that port side of the field. The loading side where a boats traditionally pulled alongside the dock. For Defiance, the left is where attacks frequently start. Left back Nick Hinds finished tied for the assist lead in 2019.
Hinds, and Academy player Alex Villanueva, will force competition on the left. Defiance head coach Chris Little likes seeing that level of depth in his roster.
“We’re hoping that the competition with three left backs, a lot of clubs’ dreams, that some of these guys show Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer that they can be an option going forward.”
Reynolds grew up in England. He played for Oxford United, Reading FC, and Cheltenham Town FC as a youth. On both sides of the pond, he bore that load as an assist man. His parents wanted him to explore U.S. colleges rather than the lower levels of England, where young defenders get a short leash.
After playing collegiately, for Louisville and the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks Reynolds accomplished both his parents’ dream and his own. He’s a professional and will have that college degree.
Now it’s time for his next dream to come true – he hopes for an MLS deal with a champion, after dominating here in Tacoma.
“The dream is to sign that MLS deal. First, I need to come in here with Defiance and adapt to the system of play. I need to add to what I have to give to the team and develop every day, to learn, and get better. Hopefully, I add goals and assists and get that MLS deal as well as really contribute this season with Tacoma.”
Defiance’s port side is ready to bear the load. In Hinds and Reynolds, there are two different styles of left backs for Coach Little to choose from. Both of them will swing the ball in from the port as providers for an attack that scored two goals a match in the second half of the 2019 season.