Sinead Farrelly is living a dream on the soccer field
It was February 2012, and Sinead Farrelly was anxious. The Havertown native had just gotten word that the Women's Professional Soccer league had folded, leaving her without a job. And worse, the semester had already started, making Farrelly, 23, unable to enroll in nutrition school.
It was February 2012, and Sinead Farrelly was anxious.
The Havertown native had just gotten word that the Women's Professional Soccer league had folded, leaving her without a job. And worse, the semester had already started, making Farrelly, 23, unable to enroll in nutrition school.
Farrelly and her former Philadelphia Independence teammates were shocked. What were they going to do now, they asked each other through text messages, and how were they going to train to stay in shape?
So the Haverford High School graduate went home to work with her mom in the mornings and picked up some small coaching jobs in the evening with the sole purpose of getting herself on her feet financially.
The more time that passed, the more it looked like soccer wasn't going to be a permanent part of life for the former University of Virginia midfielder and two-time Hermann Trophy semifinalist.
Then she talked to her former Independence coach, Paul Riley, who was coaching the New York Fury in the Women's Premier Soccer League Elite. He convinced Farrelly to join the squad, and that led to an opportunity to play overseas in Cyprus. More important, that got Farrelly to realize how much she missed the game.
A broken arm she suffered while playing in the UEFA Women's Champions League left Farrelly unable to compete or train for five months. It also planted doubts in her mind about her ability to play in the newly formed National Women's Soccer League. Again, it was Riley who convinced her otherwise.
When asked by FC Kansas City management which two free agents he would sign if he were the coach, Riley recommended Farrelly.
"I think she is the best box-to-box midfielder in the country," Riley said. "I think she is very underrated. She is the new Shannon Boxx for me. She can tackle, head, pass - what a great range of passing - and she has an unbelievable engine. She has amazing tools."
"I owe a lot to him," Farrelly said of Riley. "I'm glad I didn't give up on it."
So Farrelly signed as a free agent with FC Kansas City, her first choice, in January of this year.
"I love going to new places, and Kansas City is a place I never would have been without soccer," Farrelly said.
Farrelly has appeared in 16 games for the Blues this season, starting 10, and is relishing in the "huge soccer community" and fan support. Originally an underdog to start off the inaugural season, FC Kansas City has developed a large fan base, averaging the second-highest attendance in the league and earning home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The Blues will host Portland Saturday at 2 p.m. in the first round.
"A couple of years ago I never would have thought this," Farrelly said. "We are living the dream. We are so lucky and blessed to be living this lifestyle and doing what we love.
"You can't not wake up happy every day. I feel like every day to me is a surprise."
Farrelly said she loves living and playing in Kansas City regardless of the "crazy weather" that she says can fluctuate from snow to 70 degrees in a single day. She said she enjoys living in the same apartment complex as her teammates and enjoys spending so much time together. She also gushed about the city and the fans, acknowledging that the whole experience has been better than she expected.
"Why give up what you are really good at?" Riley said. "I think [Farrelly] has potential to be a great coach down the road, too. I think she has a future in the game."
Eighteen months ago, Farrelly was anxious and full of questions about her future. Now things are clear: She is going to do whatever it takes to continue playing soccer.
"I'm not going to quit until somebody kicks me off the field," Farrelly said.