Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel FC
ORLANDO, Fla. – This offseason, at the Philadelphia Union’s training facility, young Homegrown center back Auston Trusty found a new addition to the squad sitting in the locker next to his.
And if the 18-year-old’s career turns out anything like former veteran U.S. Men’s National Team member Oguchi Onyewu’s, that’s definitely something both Union and U.S. soccer fans will appreciate.
“That’s kinda beneficial,” Trusty said recently. “I’m really hoping to learn from him, because I know he has a lot of experience. I guess them adding him as experience to the team and for young guys like me, I can look towards him and ask for any help.”
If his willingness to learn and go the extra mile are any indicator, chances are Trusty will remain on the right path this year. An Academy signing for Bethlehem Steel FC early in 2016, his dedication to refining his game at the USL level, and then later in the season with the Union in MLS, has Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke feeling confident of Trusty’s future success.
“Those transitions have not always been smooth,” said Burke. “I think Auston would be the first to tell you that, but he displays an utter determination to succeed and growth mindset. He is constantly identifying areas that he can improve and keeping our assistant coaches on the field long after training to address the things that we identify.”
That determination toward personal growth earned Trusty a place on the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team that will compete in the CONCACAF U20 Championship in Costa Rica, where he could take the next step toward emulating Onyewu’s achievements. After competing at the FIFA U17 World Cup two years ago, Trusty is aiming to make back-to-back appearances on the world stage.
His time with Steel FC helped facilitate that, as his 19 appearances this past season for the club allowed his game to grow. Trusty said he appreciated what the side offered as he broke into the professional ranks in the past year.
“I was coming out of the [U17] National Team residency, and instead of putting me back in the Academy I was able to get this whole, entire professional aspect,” Trusty said. “With the Bethlehem Steel and the Union adding that to the organization … it allows Academy kids to live the pro life and have the whole professional feel.”
While Trusty now has the veterans on the Union squad to lean on for guidance, the leadership and advice he received from players such as Ryan Richter and James Chambers last season also proved invaluable.
“They treated me as one of them,” Trusty said. “They knew I was able to play with them, so they kinda treated me as one of their own, and anything I needed, and points they could teach me or any points they could give me, I was taking advantage of them.”
Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer
With its predecessors having reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup two years ago, this year’s U20 squad has a major target to aim for as it kicks off qualifying on Saturday against Panama. With the lessons he and the rest of the players have learned in their professional careers so far, though, Trusty is confident the side has what it takes to earn a place in South Korea this May.
“We have the players able to do the job, to get the job done in Costa Rica,” said Trusty. “With everybody performing at their best, and performing the way they are now, we have a very, very strong chance. If we keep the right mindset towards going to Costa Rica we can come out successful.”