Published: Sat, Jun. 27, 2009 02:00AM
Modified Sat, Jun. 27, 2009 05:35AM
In the past nine years, Gavin Glinton has been involved with a variety of teams, levels of soccer and even positions.
He has played with three Major League Soccer teams and two United Soccer Leagues teams (and been cut from one of those, too). He has played at the college level and coached there, too. He has represented his home country of Turks and Caicos in international play.
It has been a long journey to the Carolina RailHawks, but all that matters to coach Martin Rennie is that Glinton is here.
«Yeah. Oh, yeah. He’s a really good player,» Rennie said simply. «He’s a good player and an important player for us.»
Of every RailHawk who has played more than one game, Glinton, 30, has the second-fewest minutes, with 354 in 10 appearances. Yet he is tied for the team lead in goals with three and second in points with seven.
Today at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, in his first home start of the season and third start overall, Glinton’s scoring will become more important than ever in a 7 p.m. game against the Puerto Rico Islanders, ranked second in the league.
Two of Glinton’s three goals this season came with less than five minutes off the clock after he subbed in — one of them came only one minute later. He’s not promising that from the start of the clock today, but he will try.
«I hope so. I’d like to get a couple in the first three minutes, if we can,» he said with a laugh.
Glinton has been known as a goal-scorer wherever he has played. With the USL’s Charleston Battery in 2006, he scored 13 goals in 25 games. With the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS in 2007, he scored four in 19 appearances. He is the Turks and Caicos national team’s leading goal-scorer. Sure, that’s with four recorded, but the team has existed only since 1999.
It’s one of the many places he has called home since graduating from Illinois’ Bradley University. After becoming the first player in the Missouri Valley Conference to be voted all-conference four times, he was drafted 25th overall by the Galaxy. The first year he was there, the Galaxy won a championship. He said he played «a decent amount,» and things were going well. Then trouble started.
«I broke my ankle at the end of that year,» Glinton said. «Second year, I got traded to Dallas [FC], broke my ankle again. Just didn’t bounce back so well, so I retired.»
He headed back to Bradley, where he served as an assistant coach for Jim DeRose, who had coached Glinton. The two years he spent as assistant, he says, have made him a better player.
«I think it made me smarter as a player — a little bit more aware of the bigger picture,» he said.
Teammate and roommate John Cunliffe sees evidence of that.
«He had to explain the game to other guys,» Cunliffe said, «and that probably helps him understand the game a lot better, too.»
After two years at Bradley, Glinton got the itch to play again.
On his first trial, with the now-defunct Virginia Beach Mariners of the USL, he got cut. On his next attempt, he was picked up by the USL’s Charleston Battery, where he had a successful 2006 season.
After another year with the Galaxy and one with MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes, Glinton finds himself in Cary with the RailHawks, preparing for Puerto Rico
The Islanders have a huge lead in goals scored. In five games against Carolina, Puerto Rico is 4-0-1, with a 9-1 goal differential.
«Puerto Rico are obviously one of the teams that you know are really good, so you judge how far you’ve come and how far you have to go by how you do against a team like that,» Rennie said.
And Glinton’s scoring and leadership ability could be just what the RailHawks need.
«He understands the game a lot better than some of the younger guys,» Cunliffe said. «So obviously in these big games, we need guys who are intelligent and can play well through the game.»