It was an unprecedented season in sports around the world, but one 2020 Orange County SC player is already on the move.
Defender Danny Finlayson, on loan at Orange County this year from Scottish club Rangers FC, has been loaned to fellow Scottish Premiership club St. Mirren FC with an option for St. Mirren to make it a permanent move after, in a move announced Monday.
The 19-year-old spent the 2020 USL Championship season with Orange County on loan from Rangers. In California, Finlayson made 12 appearances for OCSC this season, nine of them starts, and played a total of 840 minutes, as he seemed to become a regular in the middle of the season for OCSC head coach Braeden Cloutier.
“It’s great to be back in Scotland after a great loan experience over in OC,” Finlayson told Angels on Parade in an exclusive interview over the weekend. “The experience was brilliant as the club gave me the platform to showcase my ability on a good first team stage so I’m grateful for the opportunity. Off the pitch was interesting as I learned a lot about myself and the responsibilities that are required.”
Finlayson was one of three Rangers youngsters on loan at OCSC this year, alongside Cammy Palmer, who also became a regular, and Matthew Shiels, who did not make an appearance.
The young players all had to navigate a much more difficult experience than anticipated, with the coronavirus shutdown interrupting the season and leaving everyone housebound.
“Yes, times were tough during lockdown,” Finlayson admitted. “It was tough being a teenager away from family during a pandemic. There were a lot of days that I considered going home and giving up but I’m glad I kept going. I just kept thinking about the end goal which was to gain valuable experience and get back to playing, which did eventually happen. I think it was important to take each day as it came and not be too serious and relax a little.”
But in persevering and getting the move to St. Mirren, the experience in California seems to have been worthwhile.
“It’s a great reward,” Finlayson said. “That’s what I mean when I say I’m glad I stuck my time out in OC. By the club giving me a chance to play and believing in me, it allowed me to show people from back home what I could, so I can’t thank OC enough. It’s a Premiership club at a good level and big stage where I’m going to be tested even more. But I pride myself on working hard so I’m not surprised I have got this reward.”
At St. Mirren, Finlayson probably has a good shot of getting playing time with the first team, with the club fielding a short squad for now, particularly in defense, and battling against relegation this season. Finishing 9th last season, the Buddies are currently in last place and on a six-game losing streak in league play. So he could get some run right away, although he was modest about his chances of getting into the lineup.
“Well I understand that the team have a lot of experience and are all good players,” he said. “However, I’m just focused on going into training and working hard to receive my chance to play and hopefully then take my chance. It’s going to be a tough season but I want to help the team out as much as I can.”
All in all, what did Finlayson take from the experience in the United States at Orange County SC? And what will he miss about California?
“I enjoyed learning about a new culture of life and a new culture of football,” he said. “Not everyone gets to live in California at 19 so I enjoyed the life experience. I’ll probably miss the beach and the weather even though I was burned most of the time. I’ll also miss the players and staff who are involved with Orange County.”
Congrats to Danny on the move and best of luck in the next step in his career.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.