(6:35 p.m. Update: Includes Falvey interview, comments from Kevin Klasila. 7:10 update includes some great comments from Zach Prince and Battery fan Jenny Kent Almers.. dc)
Colin Falvey, the Battery’s 2013 MVP, back-line iron man, and the team’s undisputed leader, was named USL PRO’s Defender of the Year on Friday afternoon in Orlando, Fla.
Per the USL PRO press release:
The Battery’s captain was instrumental in Charleston’s strong performances in USL PRO, with the club conceding just 29 goals in 26 games. Named the team’s Most Valuable Player, Falvey appeared in every game of the season, missing just 34 minutes of action, while also scoring two goals and adding an assist. He also scored the game-winning goal in the Battery’s victory against defending MLS Supporter’s Shield holder the San Jose Earthquakes in the U.S. Open Cup.
Per the write-up on the Battery website: “I’m very proud and honored to win this award,” Falvey said. “It would not have been possible without the support of my family, the Battery fans and the great staff we have at this Club.”
“I think Colin winning Defender of the Year is a very well-deserved award,” said Coach Mike Anhaeuser. “He has worked very hard for the club and his teammates. It is nice to see him recognized for all of his effort and hard work this season.”
Colin Falvey interview
Colin called in around 6 p.m. As always, the best thing to do when Colin is talking is to let him.
The way I found out was Whitney Woods and Andrew Bell both texted me at the exact same time. Obviously it was just right after the press conference today at 2 p.m. So when I got their text messages it was just “Congrats on the award.” So I kinda figured out I’d won it. So I quickly got on Twitter and seen that USL PRO had Tweeted it. So very happy and proud, you know.
I was actually flipping through the TV channels. I trying to find out who was showing the Ireland-Sweden game. I was trying to find that information, and then I got better information, really (laughs). Sweden won 2-1. But it was a good day today, so I’m not going to let the result hamper my feelings. I’m quite happy today.
(Who have you heard from?)
Just friends, family. The phone has been rung off the hook all day. I’m delighted to get so many best wishes and congratulations messages. Players I’ve played with throughout the league, the league itself Tweeted me. Just the normal stuff, fans and stuff like that. No other teams’ coaches yet, if that’s what you’re looking for (laughs).
My agent’s been in touch. With a year left on the contract and having a good year obviously he’s going to be pushing for a move. So he gave me a text today and said it’s probably come at a good time, you know, the announcement just a week after the season, with us looking maybe getting in the MLS and kinda pushing my career forward, you know, going to the next level. So it’s come at a good time, hopefully. I’m sure there will be a few people take note of it. Obviously we’ll just see how the next couple of weeks pan out. These things take a little bit of time.”
I think I’ve had two or three second-teams. I think when we won the championship in 2010 we had the best defensive team by a country mile. So I was quite surpirsed in 2010 that I didn’t get anything. And it wasn’t just me. We had (a player whose name I can’t verify yet- dc), who had a lot of assists that year. John Wilson had a great year that year. Not even one of us got even second team (mention) in 2010.
I don’t know how you would put it, but I’m very happy to finally get there, first of all the get the nomination, second of all to get down to the final three, and then to finally win it was great today, you know.
(Offensive players have scoring statistics they can point to when they’re new to a league and unknown. Do defenders have to prove their worth over time before they get recognition?)
I think so. I think it’s a little more difficult for a defender to come in and (be recognized). A lot of people will say, like even if you come in your first year and do well, they’ll say “Well, he was a good player, he looked a good player.” I was worried (early in his time in USL) that there might be someone in the league for three or four years, and as you just said, they kinda get the edge or the nod when it comes to the award. So I think you nit the nail on the head. I think it’s important that you try to be consistent for a couple of seasons, for a defender, because that’s where you finally get recognition. I think they’re looking for consistency as a defender, someone they can rely on.
I think the other thing is that scoring some goals this year sort of highlighted my performance, if you like, so that probably kinda opened a few people’s eyes. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a combination of the two things. But over the years I’ve been a little bit disappointed and really confused how it all works. But I’m happy that I’ve got there in the end. First and foremost, you want your team to do well, but it’s a nice second, thank-you, gesture.
I think the main thing is… when I was coming into the league, the whole point was… to get to MLS as quickly as possible. I think I took the jump from Wilmington to Charleston — which was a good move, obviously — because Charleston was a well-established franchise, they had some good tradition, a history, and I thought at the time it would be easier for me to get a move from Charleston. I knew they were going to be there every year challenging for the league, and that could only help me.
I think just every day wanting to get in the MLS and every weekend knowing that there’s MLS coaches watching, and playing in the Open Cup, it just kept me hungry. Hopefully I’ve done enough. If it’s not, I’ve got a year left on my deal here and I’ll try to repeat the same level of performance I did this year.
I think the league has improved. So I think the thing is you have to little things on the sides, little bits and bobs, to make sure you’re improving yourself, in order to stay on top of the league. Because there’s younger and faster kids coming into the league every year, so you have to be on your toes. But I love the challenge. I think the challenge of winning and trying to develop your career, I think that’s what’s made me get better. I think I’ve wanted it now for quite some time, and I’m not prepared to give up on the chase.
Teammates, fans, etc.
Here’s Falvey’s long-time partner at left back, Battery legend and former MLS player John Wilson, the man Falvey replaced as team captain:
Ever since (Falvey) came over from Wilmington… he’s been nothing but a true pro and a leader in the back. He knows how to get the guys going, and he knows when he has to be hard on the field, or when he really just has to do his work positionally as a defender.
I think he’s improved (in his time here). I think he’s improved definitely on positioning — knowing when to make tackles and when not to. Because sometimes in our league you can get into more of a physical battle, where you think you have to be over-aggressive.
Our team here is pretty young, so I think he’s done a great job of leading the young guys who he plays with in the back as well.
I think it’s just a case of the league catching up to somebody who deserved it and earned it. I think he’s been solid for the club since he’s been here.
Goalkeeper Kevin Klasila started five regular-season matches in front of Falvey this season, plus two Carolina Cup matches and at least half a dozen preseason games. They’ve been teammates for two years.
You know Colin in the off-the-field kind of environment, and that’s pretty much how he is (in the locker room). Just a cool, funny, down-to-earth dude. Doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s a jokester. He and (Nicki Paterson) are definitely the pranksters on the team. An easy-going guy. Not too serious, but when he needs to, he’ll sit the team down and have a talk. Doesn’t do it so often, so when he does do it, you’re going to listen to him.
It’s usually in a situation when we need some kind of leadership, and he’s pretty good about knowing when our team needs a little extra guidance and when we need to figure it out for ourselves. But he just gets really serious, really matter-of-fact and to the point, doesn’t beat around any bushes. He’ll just say it like it is. And everyone is going to listen to that.
There was like one moment in every game where Colin would just come up out of nowhere and just nail some guy. But he would do it in a way where it would be a clean tackle. And you don’t know how he pulled it off, because he comes in with so much speed, but he always gets ball. And he sets a statement, sets a tone for the rest of the game, for ‘This is how it’s going to be.”
He’s the guy that’s always in the right place. It took me a while to like really realize the kind of player Falvey was. I didn’t realize how important he was or how much our team needed him until this year, when I really started watching him more. And he always in the right spot. And he just does every little thing right. He gets, like, a flick on a ball, or just steps right at the right time. He’s just solid. You can count on him.
So not the flashy guy — though he can make the flashy play. But he’s that kind of under-the-radar, make-the-right-play-every-time (guy).
— Bobby Weisenberger (@BWW_ATC) September 6, 2013
Battery midfielder Zach Prince came to the Battery fresh out of the College of Charleston in 2010 when Falvey was one of the new guys, too.
We were up in Clemson for an exhibition and he didn’t have much to say. He was just kinda keeping quiet, kinda keeping to himself. Just kinda getting to know everyone, you know. So we both came off the bench, and in his first appearance, I just remember thinking he was just a pretty scary-looking Irish dude. He was a little rough around the edges when he came up. Me and Nicki had to teach him a little fashion sense. Not his clothing, necessarily, it was just his haircut was atrocious.
It wasn’t long after until we had our first little night out to get to know each other, and back then it was me, him, Lamar (Neagle of the Seattle Sounders) and a guy named (More names I haven’t check yet — dc) we all went out and had fun. And right when we got him out for the first time, you could tell he was completely different person off the field than he is on the field.
He totally leads by example. Doesn’t need to say a lot. Every time in practice, you can tell by the way he plays, every time a shot needs to be blocked or anything, he just puts his body on the line. Doesn’t really matter if it’s a scrimmage or an exhibition or a final. It doesn’t matter. He just kinda has it in his blood that’s what he has to do.
The thing about him that makes him so special from all the other defenders is he will, if he needs to put his body on the line, he does. But if you watch the game, most of the time in games, he’ll just sit back and read the play a lot, so he doesn’t have to make big-time, spectacular plays. Not to cut down on any other defenders, but a lot of times when he does make the spectacular plays he’s covering for someone else, not necessarily his fault in the beginning.
You can just watch him in games — not even necessarily in games. When we’re just in practice, you can pretty much slot him anywhere and he knows what to do. He’s got it ingrained in him. He’s a soccer player, a footballer, whatever he wants to call it. He just has it in his blood. He just knows. A really, really instinctive player, and he has a great mind for the game, can read a lot of stuff before it happens.
(Earlier in the year you described him as playing like he’s 6-10. He’s really not that big of a guy when you stand next to him.)
Oh no. Not at all. When you’re standing right next to him he’s not, but when he’s on the field, you always think he’s 6-2. And then you read the program and he’s what? Five-10?
(He’s listed as 6-1.)
He’s definitely not 6-1. It’s just the way he plays. He plays with his chest out. He just has a presence. It’s kinda like in basketball you hear about smaller big-men, that they always say play big? He just plays big. Which is good, because he has a lot of attributes in that sense for a center back that is a big center back, but then he has qualities with his feet that are like a smaller center back.
I don’t know why this is the first time he’s gotten Defender of the Year. He’s been by far the best defender in the league for the past four year. It’s just this year he banged in a couple of goals, so they notice him now just because statistically, which is stupid, but… He’s easily been the best player.
I’m sure there are things he’s gotten better. Maybe just a little bit cleaner with the ball. Not necessarily anything where I can just say “He’s gotten 10 times better with whatever.” He’s been easily one of our top two or three players since I’ve been here. And I think he’s been a top five player in the league the entire time he’s been here.
I think it’s embarrassing that this is the first time that he’s been in the (All-League) first team. I think that’s embarrassing, much less the Defender of the Year.
Jenny Kent Almers is a long-time Battery fan from a family with three generations of Battery fans.
My favorite memory of Colin would have to be the championship last year when he donned the Thyler 12th man jersey. That showed the character of this wonderful young Irishman. He is always available to his many fans, especially the children. He has grown into a superb leader of the team. He deserves to be an MLS player. Will that happen? That remains to be seen. If it does happen, he has given us some incredible memories.
Some of the other memories are of his goals this year and the way he has lead the team. His defense of the goal and the direction he has given to the defense. However, one of my favorite memories of Colin happened off the field in the Pub. He was talking to a group of us which included my family and Kim and Jim Gregory. Alex was taking pictures that night with Kim’s camera. She caught a great picture of Kim and Colin just after Kim had said something funny to Colin. I will not repeat what was said, but we all had a wonderful laugh about it. The photo is on Kim’s SmugMug site under photos by Alex Almers. There are some other wonderful photos of him that have been taken by Ross, Kim, and many others, but that photo in the Pub will remain one of my favorites.
Hope this helps you with my perspective. I do know that he is destined for many more great things.
Battery fan Jean Harkins:
When Colin first joined the Battery, I thought it was great to gain a randy Irishman, a defender, from the competition. As I watched him, I realized not only was he able to defend admirably, he was fan friendly. As time passed, I saw a leader emerge. I watched his play as he worked with his colleagues to psyche out the competition, competing with conviction.
He easily gained the support of fellow players to work hard and mesh into a team with whom to be reckoned.
As one season melded into the next, Colin has grown as a leader and a mentor. He plays hard, leads well, and often annoys the hell out of the opposing team.
Colin continues to include the fans as an integral part of the Charleston Battery.
Now, here is the portion of my chat-it-up that may be a bit gushy.
Colin was part of a Battery and sponsor group who came to Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center not too long ago. Bless all of the folks who attended. The group came to our Chemotherapy/ Infusion Clinic. Colin made a huge impression on our veterans. Some of the patients who were there that day still mention him.
This is the round-about way of saying that Colin Falvey, #32, Cappy to me, is an amazing defender, a great team captain, a tremendous role model, and foremost a stellar citizen in our community we call Charleston.
Teammate Nicki Paterson:
I’d just like to add a huge congrats to Colin. I have been saying for years Colin deserved this and have scratched my head looking at the teams of the year te past few years.
Personally I think to truly know how good a player Colin is all you have to do is play with him. A lot of people don’t like to admit it playing against him because he has just got the better of them again. But when you watch him every game you see him read the game like a 20-year veteran. Win every header. And most important for me he wants the ball. Never gets enough credit for go passing. Although after three years of watching me pass he should have learned something!
In all honesty Colin has been my roommate on trips for three years. One of my closest friends, if not closest friends in C-Town, and I couldn’t be happier if he moves on this year. He has earned it. I have been in his position and sometimes the politics of it doesn’t work, but it would be a joke if someone doesn’t snap him up. If he does go I’m sure there will be a few disappointed fans, but that’s football, and I know Falveys Army will follow him wherever he ends up.
I definitely worry about his hair if this is the case. He hasn’t paid for (a haircut) in three years. His wallet is tighter than Rambo’s headband.
Great season skip! Now get the drinks in!
Battery fan Beth Pilling:
So excited for Colin. I think the 2010 player he mentioned is Mike Zaher (I only know that because he was one of my favorites all-time). He played left back, JW and Colin played in the middle and I don’t even remember who played on the right. They were awesome.
But my favorite Colin memory has nothing to do with the soccer field. It was last year at the Dragon Boat races downtown. Colin noticed my daughter with her then boyfriend, who I was not fond of (but he didn’t know that). He told me to send them down to the Battery tent later and when I did, he sent Sara off so he could have a man-to-man with her boyfriend. When she returned, he took her aside and told her she could do much better. Cheryl, Nicki’s fiancé, joined in and agreed (along with another girl, I think it was Kyle Hoffer’s girlfriend – but I wasn’t there). Sara thought it was funny at the time, but dumped the guy shortly after and started dating a guy her dad and I like. Colin has yet to meet him, but seemed pleased that he plays center back for Bishop England and said he and Nicki would check him out for sure if they got the chance. My younger daughter had Colin for several years as a coach during summer academy and absolutely adored him also.
So proud to say I knew him when…
Battery Marketing and Communications Director Whitney Woods:
I picked up Colin from the airport when he first arrived in the US to play, at that time we were both with the Wilmington Hammerheads. From the very beginning he has been a leader and always cared more about his team success then his individual accomplishments! You could not ask for a better person on and off the field. He is very deserving of this award and I am excited to see him recognized for his dedication and hard work.
And finally, just a personal note:
Falvey was the first player to sit down with me for an extended interview, and over the past seven months I’ve come to the opinion that he’s actually a fairly complex and layered personality off the field, even though his soccer persona is direct and charismatic. I wouldn’t pretend to know him, but I suspect there’s more to the young man than meets the eye.
There’s always a chance that Falvey will return to the Battery lineup next season, but I’m hoping to watch him on MLS Live sooner rather than later. He’s certainly earned the chance, but then again, so did Nicki Paterson in 2012, and only the devil in the details sent him back to Daniel Island last winter. This award — and, I hope, the things that others have said about it — should boost his chances a bit.
Not that he really ought to need another boost to draw the attention of front office personnel at the next level. After all, he played Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski to a stalemate this spring in the U.S. Open Cup, and then found a way through the clutter on a corner kick to head home the match’s only goal. You could ask for more of a body of work to prove his fitness for this award and his preparation for the next level — and he could provide it. But seriously. How much more do you need know? He’s gone in against the best this league and the league above have to offer, and time and again, he’s come out on top.
When I came back from the American Outlaws watch party tonight and read the last comments people submitted, I realized this post had taken on the tone of an early farewell. So be it. Whether he returns or not, today is always a good day to tell people what you appreciate about them.