Two players from the South Puget Sound region are heading to Colorado to begin their professional outdoor soccer careers. Colorado Springs recently introduced two of its newest signings: Olympia's Josh Phillips and Yelm's Miguel Gonzalez
Josh Phillips played his final two games with the Tacoma Stars this past weekend and will move to Colorado Springs to join USL PRO expansion side Switchbacks FC. Prior to spending the 2014/15 indoor season with the Tacoma Stars, Phillips was a 4-year starter at Gonzaga, where he was named the West Coast Conference Defender of the year as a senior in 2013, only the second player in program history to win the award. Phillips helped lead Gonzaga to its first 10-win season since Zach Scott and Brian Ching played there in 2000.
Phillips also played for the Sounders U23's in the 2013 PDL season, scoring 1 goal in 7 appearances as a defender.
When he entered the MLS Superdraft in 2014, scouts described him as "a hard-nosed defender who is very good in the air", exhibiting "really good leadership". Despite that, he was overlooked and found himself without a club after a trial with Sacramento Republic FC didn't work out. In April, he traveled to Germany to try out with a couple of 3.Liga clubs, one of which was MSV Duisburg. Although he felt he played well in his trial, he wasn't ultimately offered a contract. Despite that, it did open up more opportunities elsewhere in Germany that Phillips would have taken if getting his degree from Gonzaga wasn't such a high priority.
In the summer, he played for FC Tucson for the 2014 PDL season, on a back line that only conceded 12 goals in 17 games, recording 8 shutouts. In addition to stellar defensive performances, Phillips scored 2 goals in his 10 appearances.
After the conclusion of the PDL season, Phillips spent time training with the Sounders reserves and played in Seattle's final Reserve League game against the Colorado Rapids before joining the Tacoma Stars in November. Although Phillips is originally from Olympia and Oly Town Artesians joined the inaugural season of the Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL), he opted to play for the Stars, in part because of his respect for head coach Darren Sawatzky, even though that meant driving an hour to and from practice every day.
Now, a few months later, Tacoma is on the verge of winning the WISL title and has joined the nation's top professional indoor soccer league and has a growing fan base. Phillips is moving to Colorado to finally get his professional career started. Don't expect him to forget where he came from though. In the latest Tacoma Stars Insider post (linked above), Phillips told teammate Chris Yard that he plans on returning to the Stars during the USL PRO offseason.
While Phillips is heading to Colorado Springs, Stars teammate and Sounders Academy alum Duncan McCormick may be sticking around and joining the Sounders.
Joining Phillips in Colorado Springs is Miguel Gonzalez, who has been rivals with Phillips since their high school days, when Phillips played for Olympia's Capital High School and Gonzalez played for Yelm High School. They met a few times in college when Phillips' Gonzaga and Gonzalez' Seattle University faced off in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. In both matches, Gonzaga came out on top.
The rivalry didn't stop them from becoming teammates in the summer of 2013, when they both played for the Sounders U23's and finished 4th in the PDL Northwest Division.
In the 2013 college soccer season, both were among the best players in their respective conferences. While Phillips was the WCC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference, Gonzalez was the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the year and also first-team all-conference.
After the 2014 MLS Superdraft, Gonzalez wound up on trial with the Sounders while Phillips was in Sacramento and later Germany. Though neither of them won contracts, they did wind up each playing for very good teams in PDL that made it to the playoffs: Phillips with FC Tucson and Gonzalez with Kitsap Pumas. The teams would meet in the PDL quarterfinals, but this time it was Miguel Gonzalez scoring the second goal and Kitsap would win 3-0, en route to the PDL Final, in which Kitsap lost to Michigan Bucks.
For more on Miguel Gonzalez, check out last year's trialist profile of him. His brother and teammate at Kitsap, Daniel Gonzalez was also signed by Oklahoma City Energy FC, where he will join former UW and Sounders U23 defender Michael Harris, who is well known for his flip throw-in.
The Switchbacks are expected to play against S2 twice in 2015 in the USL PRO regular season, but it's possible that they could also meet in the US Open Cup and/or the USL PRO playoffs.