It's never easy to join a team midseason, especially a team that's deeply engaged in a playoff race.
That was the case for O'Brian Woodbine, who signed with the New England Revolution on Aug. 29, 2013. The defender had a desirable pedigree, having played in Jamaica, the U.S. and Finland. He had also collected 14 caps with the Jamaican national team prior to joining the Revs. Despite all of this, Woodbine never even made a bench appearance in 2013.
Now that he has fully acclimated himself to the team, Woodbine is looking to make an impact. This won't be easy; the Revs employ a number of talented and experienced defenders.
"Everyone coming here to work hard, trying to gain a spot, gain a space on the team," Woodbine said. "We're a quality team, so everyone just has to be focused and keep working hard."
Woodbine appeared in every game this preseason, collecting 400 minutes. The 26-year-old showed his versatility as he played every position along the backline. While Woodbine simply wants to get on the field and help the team, he does have a preferred position.
"My strongest point is right-back, but I can play left-back and anywhere in the back," Woodbine explained. "I love to play right-back, but anywhere the coach needs I just play."
Playing Woodbine at right-back helps maximize his strengths. The right-footed player has the speed and skills to race up the field and offer precise crosses. He also has an effective throw-in, which he displayed in the game against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers when his sideline hurl was redirected by Pierre Omanga for a Dimitry Imbongo goal.
"My main point of the game is defending, attacking and whipping in the crosses," Woodbine said. "I think that's the best part of my game most of the time."
Woodbine's ability to cross has earned him the nickname of "Reno's Beckham." It's a nickname that caught him off guard, and it is one that he's not entirely sure is truthful.
"I was in prep school and I didn't know who this guy was," Woodbine stated "My teammates said: hey, I'm going to call you Beckham. I'm like: I don't know who that is. From that moment the name stick on me, stick on me, stick on me. It's finally going away because I was like: hey, my name is Obi. I'm not like that guy because that guy is way above."
Regardless of what you call him, fans should be prepared to see Woodbine on the field in 2014, especially with recent reports that Jose Goncalves, Andrew Farrell and Chris Tierney are struggling with injuries. If any of these players can't go, Woodbine could have his named called.
"I think anytime you have an injury it opens the door for someone else," head coach Jay Heaps remarked.
Whether it's Saturday or later in the season, Woodbine had some input about what the fans should expect from him.
"They have to just look out for the quick speed that I have and the flavor that I bring to the game," Woodbine suggested.
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