Ryan Spaulding spent two years with New England Revolution II hoping for a spot on the first team. On Friday, the 23-year-old was announced as the latest addition to Bruce Arena’s team.
It was a dream moment for the left back.
“It’s been a long journey,” Spaulding told The Bent Musket. “I’ve been with this club for two years. It’s an amazing feeling, having this club already be my home, and then being able to sign that first team contract.”
Spaulding quickly shared the news with his family via FaceTime where he was greeted by yelling, screaming, and crying—all done in a positive way. They knew how hard Spaulding has worked for his opportunity.
Spaulding came to New England in 2020 to participate in a Revs II combine. The team’s head coach Clint Peay invited Spaulding having previously worked with him at North Carolina FC. After earning a spot on the second team, Spaulding set his sights on the first team.
“I knew right away that I wanted to be here with the staff and facility they had,” Spaulding explained. “It was a no-brainer to come here then it was on to the next step of pushing myself every day to prove to the first team coaches that I deserved that opportunity to go to the first team.”
Naturally a winger, Spaulding played left back during the inaugural season of Revs II. He played 15 of 16 games, offering a goal and two assists. He played all 28 games of his sophomore campaign, amassing three goals and one assist en route to being named to the USL League One All-League First Team.
Spaulding’s consistency led to an invite to train with the Revs’ first team as they prepared for the 2021 MLS playoffs. He was “ecstatic” about the chance.
This season, Spaulding will be with the first team from the start, serving as the understudy for DeJuan Jones. Spaulding called Jones “a special player,” noting his athleticism, good feet, and strong defense.
Spaulding, who is “absolutely” a full-time outside back now, believes that his style of play meshes well with the Revolution.
“I think the outside back position just suits me much better than a winger would,” Spaulding said. “I pride myself in my defending ability and my 1v1 ability, so being able to do that every game is what you need from an outside back. I also like to get into the attack. I like bombing forward.”
It might take some time before Spaulding makes his Revolution first team debut. He knows that those opportunities are earned in practice. Here, he will face some of the best attackers in MLS. According to Spaulding, the reigning MLS MVP is the trickiest of them all.
“He’s easily the best player I’ve ever played against in my entire career,” Spaulding stated. “The tough thing with him is that you sometimes know where he’s going, you know he loves that left foot, then you blink and he’s three feet past you. You really have to stay sharp.”
The match-ups he faces every day in practice will keep Spaulding sharp for when his MLS debut comes. This moment will be another dream come true for the North Carolina native.
Spaulding is particularly excited to play in front of the fans, who have been asking for him to sign with the first team by tweeting #AnnounceRyanSpaulding. Spaulding, who enjoys Twitter and Instagram, can’t help but smile when he sees his name mentioned online.
“I think it’s awesome,” Spaulding remarked. “Seeing [fans tweet #AnnounceRyanSpaulding], it feels really good because you play the game for the supporters. Everything you do, you want to show the supporters that you do it for them. Having them recognize me and know my name is awesome. It brings a smile to my face and makes me want to keep going.”
Spaulding has another big debut coming up as he will almost certainly be asked to sing a song in front of his new teammates. He was close to fulfilling the tradition while in Los Angeles but the performance was delayed. He expects that his time will come soon.
Spaulding is ready to put on a show, though he does expect some support from a locker room that he calls “incredible” and full of “phenomenal people.”
“For the singing, I’m going to have to choose a classic,” Spaulding said. “Maybe a Michael Jackson, a Taylor Swift, something like that. Honestly, a pop throwback hit. Something that most guys will know so that once I’m struggling a minute and a half in, they can help me out and join in with me.”