By John Bombatch
While he’s played in major soccer matches throughout Europe, Xenia native Tyler Washington admits to feeling a bit nervous about playing once again in front of his hometown fans.
After spending a year with a soccer club in Orebro, Sweden, Washington signed on to play for the Dayton Dynamo this season. The original Dynamo team last played in Dayton in 1995. This is the former Cincinnati Saints franchise that recently announced its move to Dayton and renamed itself the Dynamo.
“I think we’ll be good. We have a lot of talent on this team,” Washington said by phone on Monday. “We have another guy who just joined the team who came from Sweden, and … to be honest, I’m kinda curious about what we’ll be like. That’s one thing about being back home, I don’t want to come out here and start losing. I want to show them how good we are. There’s a lot of talent here in Dayton and throughout Ohio, so I’m anxious to show people what we’ve got here.”
Washington, 22, was a standout player for his Xenia High School team, especially in the 2010 and 2011 seasons where he was an all-Greater Western Ohio Conference selection. The Dynamo striker/winger played college soccer at Cincinnati State, then saw action with a club team in West Virginia before playing last season in Sweden.
He says the Europeans play a different style of soccer, but the game remains just as fun for him. The U.S. game is more fast-paced where he can use his blazing speed, but he enjoys the more conservative European style of play as well.
“Coming back like this, I have more experience in playing with players from all kinds of different countries and all types of ethnicities. I’m just going to have fun and try to stand out on this team like I did on that team. I’m just going to do what I can to help us win,” he said.
He’s played soccer since he was 4 years of age. Washington participated in a tournament in Vienna, Austria as a 13 year old and was invited to remain in the country to develop his skills further, but he knew he’d get homesick and so he opted to return to Ohio instead.
At 15 years of age, the Xenia Buccaneer competed in the Disney Cup soccer tournament in Florida. But he says his favorite highlight thus far of his playing career has been having kids come up and ask him for an autograph.
“That, to me, was really cool, because I’d never really thought anything about it,” he said. “It makes me smile. It’s like me looking up to other players. It means a lot to me. … This is just something that I like to do, you know? So it’s really cool that people see what I do and they admire that. I’m glad I can be a role model to some of these kids.”
The Dayton Dynamo will have a special Jersey Reveal Party at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24 at the Dayton Beer Company, located at 41 Madison St. in downtown Dayton. Washington, who will be out of town on that day, says he hasn’t seen the team’s new uniforms yet.
“I’m as anxious to see them as everybody else,” he said.
The Dynamo will play their home games at Dayton’s Welcome Stadium. They begin play at 4 p.m. April 10 with a friendly match at Urbana University, before hosting the University of Akron men’s soccer team at 6 p.m. May 1 at Wright State University’s soccer field in Fairborn.
The team will begin National Premier Soccer League play when they’ll head north to take on AFC Ann Arbor (Mich.) at 7 p.m. May 10. Dayton’s first home game at Welcome Stadium will take place at 7 p.m. May 13 against Lansing (Mich.) United.
John Bombatch is a lousy soccer player. He can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.