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Ryan Spaulding Reflects On "Important Two Months" With Tampa Bay Rowdies
"I think it was a really good and important two months for me."
While a move to a USL Championship side might have appeared as a step back, it was an opportunity for Ryan Spaulding.
After being loaned to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in April, Spaulding lit up the Championship with two goals and four assists in just over 803 minutes of action. The 24-year-old also earned two USL Championship Team of the Week nods.
"I think it was a really good and important two months for me,” Spaulding told The Blazing Musket after New England’s 2-1 win over Toronto FC on Saturday. “Got along with the staff, their players, extremely well. I thought they were a great group of guys and I was able to really focus down there. It was honestly just a great environment for me and really nothing compared to just being out there every week and getting those 90’s and building your confidence that way through actually playing. It was huge for me.”
When Spaulding returned, head coach and sporting director Bruce Arena noted that the left back had some added confidence.
Spaulding credits the environment that the Rowdies created and believes that Tampa Bay pushed him to be the best.
“I think it was just really the environment that they created down there,” he said. “I think really what they were asking from me as a player and what the coaching staff knew I could bring to the team, they really just pushed the best out of me and made me feel comfortable and helped me thrive.”
The step in level of play from the Championship to MLS is noticeable and was on display in Spaulding’s first match back from loan. Against Toronto, Spaulding let Deandre Kerr get their head on a cross which gave Toronto an early lead.
But Spaulding did find his footing. He finished the night with 81 touches and completed 87 percent of his passes. The 24-year-old also had eight recoveries, and three clearances while also winning six of his nine total duels.
The left back admitted that it took some time to adjust to the style of play as well as playing with his Revolution teammates again.
“I think it definitely took me a little bit to adjust to these guys again because it’s really only been a few days,” Spaulding stated. “I think I kind of had to shake that out of my system and try to switch back into it as quick as possible. Obviously, after the first 15 minutes, I kind of settled in. I think there’s more for me that I can still continue to improve upon but I was happy with the three points.”
Arena said that Spaulding had a fine performance after the match and admitted that they were asking a lot from the 24-year-old considering the quick turnaround after arriving back in New England.
“We asked an awful lot of him to be able to start tonight and play 90 minutes,” the head coach and sporting director said. “So, he did well.”
Andrew Farrell was also impressed with Spaulding’s performance.
“Yeah, he [Spaulding] did great. I think he grew into the game. I think he had a good 85 minutes. I think the first five just getting into it, into the game, playing with us,” the veteran center back said. “He's been playing with other guys for the past month and a half, two months. But he did great. Ryan, we know he's got potential, and he's played well down in Tampa [Bay Rowdies]. I'm happy to see him get a shot and play with us, and tonight I think he did well.”
With DeJuan Jones away at the Gold Cup and Christian Makoun dealing with an injury, Spaulding has the potential to receive a heavy dose of playing time. He can show that he belongs in MLS. This is an opportunity that he will need to take advantage of if he wants to stay in the league and stay with the Revolution.
Once again, New England will be asking a lot from the left back as the Revs have a matchup with top of the Eastern Conference FC Cincinnati on Saturday. While hampered by Gold Cup call-ups, New England has a chance to stake its claim for the top of the table.
“It’s gonna be a fight,” Spaulding said. It’s two great teams but it’s a great opportunity for us to take huge points and go further up the table.”