“I got an email notification on my phone, and I opened it and I was just staring at it. It just all sunk in there. I was in shock.”
That was one week ago when Dave Romney found out that he was getting called in to play for the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team – an achievement and honor that, eleven months ago, he never saw coming.
“No shot. Absolutely no shot. Never even a thought process back then that I’d be in Brazil with the Olympic team now,” Romney said. “I was just happy to be playing anywhere at that point.”
A lot has happened for Romney since the start of the year. He’s been given a series of opportunities and has consistently found a way to rise to the occasion, which is how he’s been able to transition from an undrafted defender out of the University of San Francisco through LA Galaxy II to the LA Galaxy first team. Now he finds himself in the middle of the USA’s road to the 2016 Olympic Games.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Romney said. “I definitely took a different road than many of the guys in this camp and in MLS. I went to a smaller school, USF, and I think it’s harder for defenders to get noticed at a smaller school. You can’t score 15 goals and get on the radar, you kind of just do your job. If you don’t get talked about that usually means you’re doing your job because you’re not letting goals in.”
After a four-year career at USF, where he earned All-West Coast Conference honors and was a pillar of consistency for the Dons appearing in 72 matches, Romney was not sure where he would land next.
“I didn’t get invited to any combines or anything like that, but my coach at USF did know some of the guys at Galaxy because he used to be an academy coach there, so he got me a trial at Galaxy II,” He said. “I had no clue it was coming. I found out about a week in advance and he said, ‘I hope you’re in good shape.’”
Despite coming in injured, Romney was able to earn a spot as one of the team’s four practice players.
“They said something might happen, we’ll see, but for now you’ll be practice players. At that moment I thought, at least I’ve got a foot in, I can develop and hopefully get in eventually. I was just trying to keep a positive mindset.”
It wouldn’t take long for him to get his opportunity. With a number of Galaxy II defenders going down to injury, Romney was signed to the club and made a quick impression.
“I got signed and a couple of games in I got my first start and then 17 starts later I got called up for the International Cup game against Club America and then played well in that game. Then I got to play against Barça and then they needed a left back for an MLS game, so I got to start that and I played well in that game and a week later I signed on with LA Galaxy.”
Since then Romney has made 11 appearances with the Galaxy, an experience he has called “a crazy ride” that’s become all the more exciting with his call up to the Olympic team.
“I just want to learn as much as I can from these guys around me in this Brazil camp. We’re all in different scenarios, we’re all in different clubs, we’re all in different countries even. I’m excited to see what their situation is like and see what they’re dealing with and learn as much as I can from them. I’ll just compare myself to the top level talent in the U.S. and hopefully I fit in.”
Romney says that he has a pretty simple playing style and that it’s helped him perform consistently as he’s moved up the ranks over the last several months. He’s hoping to show what he can do at the international level with the USA as the team readies for the next phase of Olympic qualification.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but being in the Olympics would be huge. My dad’s gone to almost every Olympics in the last 20 years. I’ve been to the Sydney Olympics, to Salt Lake and he went to London. He said that his childhood dream was to be an Olympian. He said it’d be awesome if he could live it through me. I’ve still got a lot of improving to do. I want to do a lot with my game and improve technically and athletically. I’m not where I want to be as a player, but hopefully I can keep working and be a part of this team as it continues to push for the Olympics.”