Aodhan Quinn has an ultracompetitive personality.
So says the Orange County SC head coach, Braeden Cloutier, and the player himself, in his first season for OCSC, explaining that he honed his desire to win growing up in a large family.
“Yeah, I look at [being ultracompetitive] as a positive,” Quinn told Angels on Parade exclusively in a recent interview. “I’m the youngest of six in my family, so I was never going to be the one who beat my brothers and sisters. I come from a pretty athletic family, so it’s a challenge for me to compete with them, and I hate to lose. I think I’ve continued that throughout my entire life. I don’t like to lose and I love to win, so I try to do that every single day, whether it’s training or games, whatever it is.”
The midfielder, joining OCSC ahead of this season after successful runs with Louisville City and FC Cincinnati, has been instrumental in pushing the team to the top of the USL Western Conference with the end of the regular season approaching. Notching nine goals (third on the team) and 11 assists (team leader, 2nd in USL), Quinn’s ability to find production from dead balls and the run of play alike has contributed to a fantastic season for player and team.
“Yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to be on some really good teams,” Quinn noted. “It takes talent, which I know we have, but it also takes mental fortitude, and I think, as you can tell from the [OKC win] we’re starting to get that. The team’s starting to really come together, there’s a lot of strong bonds, and that’s what you need, especially in the playoffs, when games aren’t always going to go your way, if you can find a way to win, then that’s what really matters. And I think that’s what you’re continuing to see.”
That ultracompetitive drive Quinn possesses has helped drive Orange County to several notable results this year. In one, OC went down 2-0 at home to Portland Timbers 2 before Quinn orchestrated a second-half comeback to draw 2-2.
In another, even more extreme, case, Orange County were losing 2-1 at home earlier this month into second-half stoppage time against OKC Energy FC, before two late, late goals — the last and winning strike scored by Quinn — game Orange County an unlikely 3-2 win.
“I thought we were playing pretty well. I thought we did enough in the game to win, it’s just whether we were able to put it in the back of the net. Sometimes it takes until the 93rd and 95th minutes to realize that, but we kept playing the same way, trying to create chances, and Noah [Powder] got the first one to tie it back up, and then the ball just bounced out to me, and I took a chance, got a little bit of luck on the way, and then like you saw, it was really exciting.
“Obviously, because of how hard the team worked, that’s what we’re there for, to win games, and to do it at the death like that, it’s always a special feeling,” Quinn said.
The drive to win came through again just this week, as Quinn notched two goals in a major 5-2 victory over fellow top seed contenders Real Monarchs on Wednesday.
On a team where the star turns have not been lacking — among others, Thomas Enevoldsen has been in range for the USL Golden Boot this season, and Andre Rawls has been a top goalkeeper — Quinn has been consistent as the season has gone on, and could arguably be making a case for USL MVP, on a team stacked with candidates. While he was pleased to highlight the performances of his teammates, he did note that the factors that go into making a winning team seem to be in place for Orange County.
“You can’t really tell in the beginning,” he said. “I knew we had good players, obviously, but you have to see how everyone meshes together and how the coaching staff treats all the guys. Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s the right timing and this year we have a bit of both. Guys really want to show what they can do. The roster’s so talented, it’s really fun to be a part of. I’m really enjoying it.”
A native of Southern California whose father, Brian, was a USMNT international and who now coaches the University of San Diego men’s soccer team, Quinn said persistent interest over the years from Cloutier to bring him to Orange County SC, plus a desire to move closer to home, brought him to the club this year.
“I’ve been out east the majority of my career. So I always wanted to come back to the west because my family’s here in San Diego, so being closer to them was always a big part to coming out here. Plus, I’ve always been close to Braeden, who’s contacted me the last couple years, and I thought this was the right time to come and so far we’ve had a great relationship and it’s showing on the field.”
While he appreciates the ability to eat California burritos now and go to the beach when he likes, things he couldn’t do when playing in Louisville and Cincinnati, Quinn did say that he’s enjoying how everything is going right now, but he won’t rule out a move to a higher league, if an opportunity comes about.
“My objective, as it has been every year, is to try and play at the highest level I can. If an MLS team comes, or a team in a higher division somewhere else comes, then yeah, I’d love to look at it and maybe take a chance,” he said.
But he continued that perhaps Orange County is the place to be, not just for this season.
“I’m starting to realize what I want in a club and what I want in my lifestyle, and I think I have a lot of that here in Orange County. It’s been really good, and I think that’s why I’ve produced so well this year. I’ll think more about that at the end of the year and if something comes up, maybe I take a chance and look at it, but if not, then it’s about winning championships and being happy being in a place you want to be at.”
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