Talk about a whirlwind introduction to Sacramento for new Republic FC attacking midfielder Daniel Trickett-Smith.
Trickett-Smith, 20, arrived from England late Friday night, met his new teammates Saturday morning and played an electrifying 45 minutes that night to help Republic FC , beat his old club, Liverpool FC U21, in a friendly at Bonney Field.
Though he had been with his new team for only a few hours, Trickett-Smith showed the energy and creativity he is expected bring to Sacramento’s attack and showcased the relationship developing between Republic FC and the Premier League team.
“You could see his football intelligence, you could see the way he thinks, and he actually made our players come alive,” Republic FC coach Paul Buckle said.
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Trickett-Smith said he had no problem playing through the fatigue and it helped that his new teammates “straightaway” made him feel welcomed, but it was surreal playing opposite his old team.
“It was crazy,” he said. “Two weeks ago, I was training with them, and they are all good friends of mine. ... Seeing them on the opposite team was a bit weird, but I enjoyed it, and it was great to get the win over them.”
Liverpool U21 coach Michael Beale and Brooks Lennon, the Reds’ standout academy forward from the United States, knew what Trickett-Smith would give Republic FC even before the teams stepped on the field for the first of two friendlies. The two sides also will play Wednesday at Reno’s Greater Nevada Field.
“Daniel is a fantastic player,” Beale said Friday before Trickett-Smith had arrived in Sacramento. “I think you will see that very quickly. ... He can score and create goals. He’s a lovely boy, and he’s really excited about coming over. It just shows the bond between the two clubs.”
As a striker, Lennon worked closely with Trickett-Smith after being elevated from Liverpool FC U18 to the U21 team.
“He’s a great kid,” Lennon said. “He’s very skilled. He’s definitely going to show his talent right as he gets in. I’m excited for him to take his next step in his career.”
Liverpool FC won a battle with Manchester City FC for Trickett-Smith from the lower-tier Crewe Alexandra in 2012. The deal was worth 1 million pounds, but Liverpool FC told Trickett-Smith last month that he wouldn’t be offered a new contract. Competition within Liverpool’s academy is so fierce that even some of the most talented players can’t make the jump to the first team and must look elsewhere to play professionally.
Buckle and Graham Smith, Republic FC’s director of football, had watched Trickett-Smith during their 13-day tour to England last winter and thought he could bring creativity and goal-scoring ability after star midfielder Rodrigo Lopez left the team.
“Daniel’s career did not take off as he would have wished at Liverpool,” Smith said. “We’re hoping we can set him up again, so he can flourish. Paul has an excellent track record of developing young players.”
Trickett-Smith said he had heard that, too. Two of his Liverpool FC teammates, Lloyd Jones and Kevin Stewart, had played on loan for Buckle when he was at Cheltenham Town FC.
“They rate him really highly,” Trickett-Smith said. “Paul rang me, and we had a really long chat on the phone, and he told me all about Sacramento, where he thinks Sacramento is going. I just thought it was a great opportunity for me personally, and hopefully I can help the team win games and work on my game as well.”
Buckle said the challenge for both will be to see if the relationship can continue beyond this year.
“We’re hopeful that, one, he can fit in straightaway with us and that, two, he can enjoy it,” Buckle said. “We don’t know what the long term of (the relationship) is going to be. Obviously it’s going to be a new environment for him.”