This is an excerpt from Sirk's Notebook. Read the whole notebook here.
The 2-1 win over Toronto capped an incredible season for Josh Williams. Despite signing in September of 2010, Williams did not appear in a league game with the Crew until the home opener against Montreal on March 24. Injuries opened the door for Williams, and he took full advantage with his solid play. By the end of the season, he had played in 30 games, with 27 starts, one goal, and three assists. After being one of the Crew’s best players while playing center back, his versatility allowed him to fill-in at left back for the second half of the season, even though it’s not his natural position.
As we spoke in the locker room for the last time in 2012, I asked Williams if, on opening day, he ever imagined his season playing out like it did.
“Not at all,” he said. “I was thankful just to get on the field and happy that the coaches had confidence in me. It seemed like just yesterday that you and I sat down for that first interview, and then it seemed like I blinked, and we’re standing here today and I’m wondering, ‘Where did the season go?’ It’s just nice to be a part of this organization I rooted for growing up, and now I get to put the jersey on. And then to go through what we’ve gone through, it’s a very close group of guys. We’ve bonded really well. It was nice to get a win here and end the season on a positive note.”
Williams ended his personal season on a fitting note when his 90th minute header went right to the goalie. Williams had several tantalizing near misses over the course of the year. He hit posts, he had shots cleared off the line, and had two goals called back—one on a dubious off-the-ball foul call and another by an incorrect offside. He did finally score a goal that counted on August 29 in Philadelphia. Alas, his last minute header in the season finale did not get him a well-deserved second goal that would enable him to celebrate with the home fans.
“I had that planned out a little different when I came running in,” he said with a laugh. “I was thinking, ‘This would be the dream ending to bang one in at the 90th minute,’ but of course, with how it’s gone this year…I’m just glad I got one. Otherwise, I could have spent all offseason thinking about could have been. It was a fitting ending. It was a good ball and I tried to get to a good spot, but I’m not really about the stats and all that. As long as we got the win, I’m fine.”
Williams now heads into a very different offseason. Gone are any questions or doubts about whether he will return. He now has the confidence that he is an integral part of the team.
“It’s definitely good knowing that,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good talent here. I think a big reason I excelled this year was because of my training last offseason. I need to get back to the gym and come back more ready than I was this year. I proved I can play in this league, but I want to take it up a notch.”