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‘I fell in love with soccer watching her’ – Meet Auston Trusty, the MLS star inspired by his ex-USWNT sister

17:00 GMT+3 07/10/2019
Auston Trusty USWNT split
The USMNT defender wouldn't be where he was today without his older sibling's example and her stories, his favorite being her meeting Freddy Adu

As women’s soccer grows and grows, there are plenty of stories of today’s stars getting into the game by joining in with their brother and his friends, kicking a ball around.

Jill Ellis, who led the United States to back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles, spent her childhood “playing with her brother in the backyard”, while photos of Lucy Bronze tackling her older brother, Jorge, have circulated the internet for years.

But Auston Trusty is one of the rare examples of the shoe being on the other foot.

When the Philadelphia Union defender was born, his sister, Onnie Nicholson, was already in love with soccer and would soon be travelling around with the national team, starring in their youth teams and inspiring her little brother with her stories.

“I’m the youngest of six. Everyone in my family played collegiate sports and high-level sports so I was kind of bound to have that pathway,” Trusty explains to Goal.

“My sister played with national teams in soccer, so I fell in love with soccer watching her.

“She was on the women’s national team and everything. She was a big-time player and I was the little ball boy on the sidelines, kicking a ball.

“I never got to really play with her because by the time I was really able to play, she had already stopped playing and already had a kid, but I get to hear her stories and everything so that’s pretty cool.”

The tale that stands out for Trusty is that of his sister meeting Freddy Adu while away with the national team, the former D.C. United ‘wonderkid’.

“When I was really little, I remember her saying she’d just got back from a trip playing with the national team and the men’s national team was there too,” he recalls.

“And Freddy Adu - he actually played for the Union too at the time - he was like the biggest name in America, the biggest soccer player, the biggest prospect in the world.

“And he was like 15, 16 years old. I remember her telling me she’d met him and they were friends and I was like, ‘wow, one day I want to go to that national team place and see it and play at the World Cup’.”

Auston's sister, Onnie (No.24), pictured here playing with future USWNT World Cup winners Naeher (No.1), O'Hara (No.8), McDonald (No.15) and Heath (No.10) in 2005

Although Trusty is yet to be capped at senior level for his country, the 21-year-old has risen through the youth ranks at some pace and has represented the USMNT’s under-17s and under-20s at World Cup tournaments.

“Not too much later, I was in the residency school and playing at the World Cup,” he beams.

“I never knew that existed until she told me that. So it’s stories like that.”

Despite his parents being very supportive of his passion for soccer, and being able to financially support him too, Trusty’s love for the game wasn’t shared by many outside of his family.

“I grew up when soccer wasn’t the main thing. My friends didn’t grow up playing soccer and I was the weird one for playing soccer,” he explains.

“All the kids in the neighborhood, every single day we were outside playing but it would never be soccer. It was always football or basketball or baseball or anything else but soccer.

“If I even mentioned soccer they’d be like, ‘what?’, you know?

“It’s just not in the American mindset. It’s hard growing up. When you’re growing up, you do what your friends do, and they’d rather watch a football game than a soccer game. It’s not in their mindset. It’s sad, it’s unfortunate for me, but you get over it.

“It was easier for me because my family had the money to afford it all for me but a lot of kids it’s not as accessible for them. It’s really, really expensive.”

The issues that exist in America’s relationship with soccer are something Trusty discusses at length in Soccer in the City, a documentary featuring a plethora of top talent from the USA and beyond that is set to premiere on October 17.

“I think it’s getting the backing from the city itself to allow fields to be put in parts of town,” Trusty says.

“I think it’s extremely important because if kids in the city have to have access to proper fields and proper nets and everything, it can grow the game and there’s more potential for teams to look at.

“Every team is in the city but not every team is tapping into the full potential of that city.”

While soccer has developed into something of a pay-to-play sport in the States, it’s something that Trusty sees improving since he was a kid.

The defender grew up just five minutes from the Union’s stadium and spent his childhood idolising those who he plays with now – describing current teammate Ray Gaddis as someone who was his favorite player, and is now his best friend.

Thanks to the Union’s work in the community, the soccer landscape of Philadelphia is changing for the better, and Trusty is delighted that the next generation of future soccer players will enjoy that.

“I go home and I can see little kids playing around, which I always did, but I see them with a soccer net outside their house.

“It makes me really happy. When I grew up, that was not a thing. I had a net, but it was two lacrosse nets because my brother played lacrosse, so I put them together. I always wanted a net.”

He also believes that attitudes in the U.S. are changing for the better when it comes to the future of soccer in the country.

“I think the mindset of the people I grew up with has changed,” he says.

“But that might be because they see me and they want to support me so they get involved in it.

“That said, it shows that when you put aside the fact that ‘soccer’s a wimp sport’ or things like that and people try to watch it and they enjoy it.

“If you give it a chance, when the American mindset gives it the chance, it’ll grow on you.”