Sent on loan to the NASL’s Ft. Lauderdale Strikers at thebeginning of the season, Conor Shanosky was entering a pivotal moment in hiscareer. For the first time sinceturning professional in 2010, the Sterling, Virginia native would be reliedupon for first team minutes.
Those minutes, however, were not guaranteed.
“Nothing has been handed to Conor,” assured Ft. Lauderdalecoach Daryl Shore during a recent phone interview. “He was told in the beginning that even though he was hereto get minutes, he was going to have to earn them. He’s done that.”
Earlier this week, Shanosky also earned NASL Defender of theWeek honors as the Strikers blanked their second consecutive opponent. The graduate of Loudon County’s PotomacFalls High School leads Ft. Lauderdale in minutes played this season and hasstarted all but one league match for the second-division club.
A highlight of Shanosky’s year-long stint in Florida cameduring a late-May U.S. Open Cup match against the MLS-leading San JoseEarthquakes. Playing against oneof the top-tier’s best attacks, the 20-year-old immediately noticed some keyimprovements in his game.
“My ability to read things defensively has improved,” saidShanosky, who keeps up with D.C. United's progress by using MLS Live. “I make sure I’m dealing with dangerousplays in a more direct way. I’mtaking initiative, and that is one of the things that I would say has improveda lot.”
As Shanosky’s confidence has grown, so has the communicationbetween Ft. Lauderdale and Washington. During a ten-year stint as an assistant with the Chicago Fire, Shoredeveloped close relationships with Josh Wolff – who he coached from 2001-2002 –and Ben Olsen. The Strikers’ coachsays both men, along with D.C. general manager Dave Kasper, regularly inquireabout Shanosky’s progress.
“Conor is the soccer version of a gym rat," Shore added. “He’s always on the field, and healways stays after to work on things. He’s always looking for guys to play little games against when trainingis over. He has become a guy whowe can really rely on.”
In addition to durability, Shanosky is displaying impressiveversatility while with the Strikers. He has played at both central midfield and in central defense, but as ofyet, doesn’t have a clear favorite between the two vital positions.
“I’m comfortable at mid but if I move to back I pick upwhere I left off,” Shanosky says. “Sometimes I think I’m going to be uncomfortable in the back if I move,but once it gets to the game I don’t have that much of a preference.”
D.C. United visits Montreal on Saturday, and returns home to host the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, August 29 - TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLINE