COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Colorado Rapids centerback Sean St. Ledger has built up a reputation as a stereotypical “bad boy” throughout his career, one which grew following his release from Orlando City SC earlier this summer for a “serious breach of club policy." But since he joined the Rapids at the MLS transfer deadline, his new coaches and teammates say St. Ledger has been a model student.
“[St. Ledger] is a gregarious guy, but takes his craft seriously,” said Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “He’s a good guy to be around, and I think the guys respect the way he goes about his business. The performances have spoken for themselves.”
St. Ledger himself acknowledged he's perhaps got more of a point to prove. “I think my hunger is the same as everyone in the locker room,” he said. “Every time you come to a new club it’s always brand new and a fresh start, and you’ve always got plenty ahead of you.”
He wouldn’t comment on the events which led to his release from Orlando City, but he did expound upon the differences in on-field styles between the two clubs, a change he said he's welcomed.
“It’s been pretty easy to slide in here because the whole team knows their job,” he said. “When I was at Orlando we played an expansive style of football that was all about attacking, and there’s going to be times when you’re exposed. At the end of the day, what you get paid to do is to defend. Strikers get paid to score goals. It’s just different styles of football.”
Alongside fellow newcomer Maynor Figueroa, St. Ledger has quietly solidified an already-stout Colorado defense, conceding only one goal from the run of play in their three appearances. And despite his primary focus on defense, St. Ledger’s most awe-inspiring play thus far in Colorado came on Wednesday night, when he assisted Kevin Doyle’s game winner against Houston.
“I found myself on the right with a little bit of space. I thought I had a little bit of room and [Dillon] Serna found me with a really good ball," he said of the play. "I think it’s a bit difficult for opposing defenders when another defender is that far forward. It’s off the cuff. It was a case of just trying to get it over the keeper’s head, because if he catches it, you’ve got a long run back. I knew if I did that, then Kevin would find the back of the net.”
The Irish connection between Doyle and St. Ledger was clicking on Wednesday night, and off the field, it’s also aided in the latter's transition in Colorado. The two have a history as teammates on the Irish national team and opponents in the English Premier League and Championship. St. Ledger said he's happy to be reunited with his countryman as friend rather than foe.
“It can be like the first day of school, and you don’t know anyone but it’s always nice when you know someone,” he said of his relationship with Doyle.
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“He’s always been difficult to play against,” St. Ledger added. “He’s phenomenal at winning 50/50 balls. It’s more like 60/40 in his favor. When you’re under pressure, you can put the ball up to him and it sticks and it holds.”
“Usually it’s just about me clearing my lines and maybe him finding a ball that wasn’t very good for him,” he joked.
Colorado has once again started to string together wins with two in a row, but St. Ledger emphasized that it’s just a start, with Saturday’s home match against contenders Sporting Kansas City on the horizon (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“It’s obviously given us a lot of confidence headed into the Kansas City game,” he said. “We have another nine games to go and we know that if we want to get into the playoffs, we need to win the vast majority of the games.”