Richie Ryan is a 5’10” midfielder playing for the only professional football (soccer) club in Miami, Florida: Miami FC. Ryan, who at the time of the writing of this biography (September 2017), is a 32 year old veteran midfielder who grew up playing youth football in the coastal suburbs of Dublin, Ireland. The Belvedere FC club, for whom Ryan learned the game from, has produced several players who have gone on to have international careers.
Riccardo Silva and world renowned soccer superstar Paolo Maldini, the co-owners of Miami FC, brought in Richie Ryan to the club in a record deal for the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Miami FC ownership acquired Ryan from the Jacksonville Armada FC for a record $750,000 transfer fee as well as tripling his salary. At the time of the transfer, the squad was sitting dead last in the NASL standings.
The ownership of the Miami FC was looking for midfield leadership and sought Ryan’s experience, deft passing, defensive skills and “footballer mind” to stabilize their core of players. At the time of the transfer, according to Empire of Soccer, Richie was considered the best captain in the NASL, as well as having a proven winning record. Since the former Armada and Ottawa Fury FC captain has relocated to south Florida, the squad has led in the standings.
Ryan started his professional career and moved to England in 2003 joining Sunderland AFC of the Premier League. Over the next several years, he played for Scunthorpe United and Boston United, both based in England, before returning to his native Ireland and playing for Royal Antwerp. It took several years for the Irishman to hone all aspects of his game and in 2010, his touch and passing ability, threading defenders, led to his league acknowledgement garnering him both a Player of the Month award and the coveted 2010 PFAI Player of the Year honors.
Both Ryan’s play and leadership helped two separate clubs to the League of Ireland Championship Cups. In 2013 he and his wife decided to take their skills across the Atlantic and they joined the Ottawa Fury FC. With the addition of Ryan who was named Fury Player of the Year in 2014, Ottawa went on to win the NASL Fall Championship in 2015.
In the United States, there are two professional soccer divisions: Division 1 that is made up by Major League Soccer (MLS) comprised of 22 teams, and Division 2 that is made up of the North American Soccer League and the United Soccer League. Teams from each league will occasionally have matches against each other. Since joining Miami FC, the club has not only dominated the NASL, they have defeated several MLS clubs as well.
The NASL has two separate seasons each consisting of 16 games. The Spring season begins in March and the Fall season in . The winners of the Spring and Fall seasons host a four team post-season tournament called The Championship and starts in November. Following the seasons, Ryan returns to his native Ireland where he relaxes and recovers for a few weeks before beginning his training. Says Ryans’ wife Nicky, “after a few weeks home he is starts to get a little stir crazy and needs to get out onto the pitch again.”
Cover Photo Credit: Dennis Schneidler – USA TODAY Sports