GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Triumph goalkeeper Dallas Jaye has bet on himself throughout his soccer journey, and after reuniting with his first coach as a pro he’s made his mark as one of the best in the league.
Before he was shutting down opponents for the Greenville Triumph, Jaye had to battle his way to opportunity.
“I spent the first three years of my professional career sitting on the bench as a backup, being the third-string and not making the game day roster for teams,” said Jaye. “So there was a lot of moments where [I thought] ‘is this the career for me?’”
After playing at both the University of South Florida and Xavier, securing a masters degree in the process, Jaye signed his first professional contract with USL club FC Cincinnati, led by current Triumph coach John Harkes.
“There’s always something there for players; the first coach who’s really going to believe in you coming out of college to be a pro. And for me he was that guy,” Jaye said.
”He has a great intelligence about him, [he’s a] smart guy,” said Harkes. “He has an ability to understand situations and he adapts really well.”
After a few seasons of largely being on the sidelines, Jaye’s first professional head coach reached out with an opportunity for a fresh start with the Triumph.
“John gave me the call and it just made all the sense in the world for me to come here and I’ve been here ever since.”
Harkes recalled one phone call in particular, with a challenge to the goalkeeper.
“The conversation here was ‘hey Dallas if you’re coming here you have to be the number one goalkeeper. Do you have that temperament to do that number one position?…And he convinced me that ‘yeah I’m ready for that job, that role.’”
Jaye lived up to the challenge, making an immediate impact in goal.
In 2019, the team’s inaugural season, he was named USL One Goalkeeper of the Year, a title he earned the following season as well.
“I am fortunate to have my name pop up with some of these awards, but it really is a credit to those guys in front of me,” Jaye said, crediting his teammates. “I think the real validation, for me, comes from us collecting the ultimate prize last year and that was the 2020 championship.”
After helping lead the Triumph to the league title, Jaye has started the 2021 season right where he left off. He’s tied for the league lead with three shutouts, and Greenville remains undefeated (4-0-1) through five games.
His talent is apparent, but Harkes says his ability to lead is what stands out.
“That leadership is important from the back. To see and scan the whole field and to kind of direct them and have that kind of vocal leadership is really good. So he does a great job with them.”
“I think being vocal as a goalkeeper is a huge component. It’s a big part of the position. I’ll have some guys on the team tell me to shut up every now and then, but that’s just part of it,” Jaye said with a smile.
His teammates might give him grief from time to time, but the truth of the matter is: as Jaye keeps talking, the Triumph keep winning.