COLLEGE soccer in the United States of America is becoming an increasingly popular option for young players from Cork.
Just in 2021 alone, Cork City Football Club’s women have seen four of its players decide to head to America for the opportunity to continue their playing career while also receiving a good education, of course.
And while the education aspect is a huge incentive, initially at least, those players are making the move in the hope that they can progress to a certain level soccer-wise where they can make it their professional career.
These players deserve credit for being brave enough to take that chance and they deserve credit for already playing at a standard that the colleges across the Atlantic are eager to sign them.
Just to focus on the women’s game for a minute. Progressing from local soccer on Leeside to representing Cork City isn’t easy.
Progressing from City to colleges in the US is tougher again but forging a professional career in soccer, be that in America or closer to home in England, once their student years are over is going to be the toughest step of all.
But if they are looking for a role model to prove that securing a professional soccer career in the States is possible, then they don’t have to look any further than Cork’s own Denise O’Sullivan, who recently reached another incredible milestone in her illustrious.
Last week, the Knocknaheeny native made her 100th appearance in the National Women’s Soccer League. In typical fashion, O'Sullivan helped her North Carolina Courage side claim a 3-1 win over Racing Louisville in what is a difficult time for the club following the sacking of their manager Paul Riley recently for off-the-field controversy.
In the time between her first match and her 100th, the dynamic playmaker has won two NWSL Championships, three NWSL Shields, two of her club’s most valuable player awards, and a players team of the year selection.
O’Sullivan has since made her 101st league appearance — against the club, she began her American journey with back in 2016; Houston Dash.
But it’s with the Courage where her reputation has grown and the storied club even took to their own social media accounts to describe her as a 'legend' following her landmark moment.
They’ve done their part in helping her improve as a player which has also benefited the Republic of Ireland senior women’s side, where she is now just 15 caps away from number 100 for her country. So while there are many young players dreaming about playing even one game professionally in a high-level league such as the NWSL, O’Sullivan has 101 games under her belt and she isn’t finished yet.