Ex-Roar youngster Daley reveals 'crazy' American ordeal

Jesse Daley during his time with the Brisbane Roar youth team Source: @JesseDaley15 (Twitter)

Former Brisbane Roar midfielder Jesse Daley has opened up about his turbulent time in the United States as the country is ravaged by the coronavirus, protests and civil unrest.

Daley plays for the Tacoma Defiance, the reserve team of Major League Soccer club Seattle Sounders, in the USL Championship.

America leads the world as a COVID-19 hotspot with over three million cases and more than 130,000 deaths.

The US has also been rocked by demonstrations, violence, riots and increasing tension follow the tragic killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota in April.

Daley, who moved to the American state of Washington in 2018 after leaving South Melbourne FC, describes the whole situation in the US as “crazy”.

“It’s been mad with the coronavirus and all of the protests that were going on,” he told The World Game.

“There were riots in Seattle, 15 minutes from where I live there were cars being blown up and set on fire, only a few weeks ago. We were in our apartment watching it on the news going ‘what is going on here’.

“I’ve not experienced anything like this year, on a few fronts. It’s been completely different to Australia, my mum’s been worried sick. It’s been quite a stressful year to be honest.

“The whole situation has been crazy. We had three months in lockdown – no training, everything closed up, couldn’t really leave your apartment except for essentials. Now it’s calmed down a bit, we can still go to training.

“But the cases keep going up in the US, which is concerning. The curve hasn’t really flattened. There hasn’t been much clarity, the club or the league haven’t been able to give us much clarity as things are changing all the time, day-to-day almost.

“Now we’ve got the league to look forward to, we’ve got a 16-game season and we’ve got our first game this week against Sacramento. It’s not an ideal situation but I’m sticking it out at the moment, seeing what comes of it and what comes up in the next few months.”

Daley, who hails from Brisbane and spent time with the youth teams of the Roar and Melbourne Victory, said he considered returning home in March when the pandemic began.

“I did think about going back, it was definitely in my thought process. But I kind of had to terminate the contract and return home,” he said.

“Or stay here and stick it out, so I stayed here to stick it out. The club’s been quite good.

“They haven’t missed a pay cheque, we’ve been paid the whole way through, there’s been no pay cuts.

"But obviously there’s a lot of factors that come into play when you’re a million miles away from home and there’s a pandemic.”

Daley is one of two Australians on Tacoma’s books, along with ex-Newcastle Jets midfielder Antonee Burke-Gilroy.

The 22-year-old shares an apartment with Burke-Gilroy and the pair have been supported by another Aussie in Sounders assistant coach John Hutchinson.

“I live with Antonee, that definitely helps having him here,” he said.

“To have a familiar face and someone who can relate to the situation. ‘Hutch’ has been amazing for ‘Burkey’ and I, helping us through it and talking to us most days, making sure we’re OK. He’s been great for us.”

The USL Championship season was suspended on March 12 after two rounds were played. It is expected to restart this week with matches behind closed doors, but with the coronavirus still in full swing across America, uncertainty reigns.

“There’s a lot to still be determined, especially with our league,” Daley said.

“We travel domestically and we’re on flights every week. So if teams start picking up cases, we’re getting tested two or three times a week at the moment, so if players start getting it then it’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

“We do a lot of travel, the travel is brutal. The regular season is supposed to finish in November, and the playoffs could go into early December. There’s a long road ahead.

“[But the season break] has just been so weird and long. It will be a bit surreal to play an actual game.”

The former Young Socceroo is off-contract at the end of the season and admits a move home to the A-League appeals.

“I would like to come back to the A-League, given the right opportunity,” Daley said.

“It’s something I always keep my eye on, being an Aussie and being a football-head. If the right opportunity comes up I’d definitely be interested.”