Mount Si grad reaches quarterfinals of national soccer tournament
July 5, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Playing in a large, shiny soccer stadium far away from his hometown, former Wildcat Gibson Bardsley could be excused if he thought, well, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Major League Soccer’s Livestrong Sporting Park, however, is in Kansas. And the Sunflower State may not be Bardsley’s hometown, but it is the home of his parents.
On June 26, Margie Bardsley, her sisters, cousins and friends all reunited to cheer for the away team: the Dayton Dutch Lions of the United Soccer League first division, two rungs under Major League Soccer.
Three pro leagues plus a bunch of clubs from across the country play the U.S. Open Cup every year.
This year, the Dutch Lions reached the quarterfinals against Sporting Kansas City.
Gibson, 22, started at left wing, in 92-degree weather.
“It’s exciting,” Margie said. “I would like to see him advance even further in the soccer world. Only time will tell.”
After starring at Mount Si — Mount Si coach Darren Brown has called Gibson one of the best players he has ever coached — he moved on to Western Washington University.
A short foray into pro ball with the Charlotte Eagles led him to catch the eye of Dutch Lions’ coach Ivar Van Dinteren.
“Gibson liked being next to the ocean, on the East Coast,” Margie said. “But when you’re working your way up to the MLS you’re happy just to be on a team.”
In the birthplace of Orville Wright, Gibson’s career has taken flight under Van Dinteren, a Holland native who spent 12 years as a pro player in his native land.
“I asked him what he saw in me,” Gibson said of Van Dinteren. “He said that if I played for him, he saw me as a starter for the team.”
Gibson said he jumped at the opportunity. The Dutch Lions are an affiliate of FC Twente, a team in Holland’s prestigious top tier.
“Potentially, if you were to play out of your mind, there could be an opportunity over there,” Gibson said.
Even if he doesn’t make it to the vaunted Eredivisie, he won’t complain.
“I am really blessed to be getting on the field, getting this opportunity,” he said. “You can become a better player on the practice field, but it makes a difference being on the actual field.”
And when your competitors are major-leaguers, it makes a bigger difference.
“They proved why they are in the top league in America,” he said regarding Sporting Kansas City, which defeated his Dutch Lions, 3-0.
Ohio is football country, Gibson said, but he sees his sport having a future as bright as his team’s orange jerseys.
“With the Columbus Crew,” he said, referring to the Buckeye State’s only MLS team, “and the Dayton Dutch Lions having some success, I feel like it’s only a matter of time.”
Margie said she thinks the same can be said about her oldest son.
“I hope he’s able to reach for the stars,” she said. “And do what he does best.”