Michigan Rush Northville

News Detail


Apr, 2018

Ken Tribbett Returns To Harrisburg

In 2018, Ken Tribbett is back.

The USL Rookie of the Year finalist in 2015 has returned to Harrisburg after stints with the Philadelphia Union and Bethlehem Steel, and he is excited about the changes happening at Penn FC. Returning to the city where his professional career began, Tribbett is now a leader with experience, illustrated by his appointment as team captain.  

“Preseason has gone very well,” Tribbett said. “The team is really coming together. There are a lot of new guys from different places, so it’s taken some time but I really like the way this group is meshing.”

While there are a number of familiar faces at Penn FC, supporters will see a lot of newcomers, and Tribbett says that fans can expect to like what they see.  

“We’ve picked up some really good, exciting players,” Tribbett said, adding that making the playoffs is just the minimum as a team goal. “This group has an underdog mentality and a lot of talent that’s ready to compete.”

There have been a lot of changes since he was last in Harrisburg. The new ownership group includes Rush Soccer, an international soccer organization that includes 85 clubs throughout America and abroad. As the first team, Penn FC offers a professional platform for young players across the country, and Tribbett -- a former Rush player -- noticed the changes from the start..

“The new ownership group has brought in an added level of professionalism. There is an urgency to win and promote players to the next level. There is a good mentality about the organization," he said, emphasizing the club's efforts to make sure that "...even the smallest of details are taken care of.”

Tribbett knows that taking care of the details is something that’s critical in his development as a leader and central defender. Moving up the ranks in the Colorado Rush Soccer Club, Tribbett played as a midfielder for nearly his entire youth and collegiate career. Being around sports from a young age (his mother was a professional volleyball player), he understood the value in observing other players. He made sure he took the opportunity to watch kids who were one or two years older and tiedy to take aspects of playing styles he liked and implement them into his game.

Watching Tribbett play, his combination of tenacity and skill make it appear that he was destined to play in the middle of the back line. Still, for any player who has worked diligently on mastering the skill set of a central midfielder, it’s difficult to adjust to the intricacies of a new role particularly at the professional level. By the nature of the position, a central defender sees the whole field and in essence becomes a field general.  Learning on the job, Tribbett quickly understood that the ability to stay focused for 90 minutes was paramount.

Particularly as a central defender, Tribbett stresses the need for communication. A defensive leader is the type of player who is always talking to his teammates.

"Different players have their own ways of keeping themselves in the game. For me, I need to be communicating all the time. Talking keeps me in the game. I find communicating throughout the game makes sure I'm focused.  A lot of that is organizing the defense and giving out tactical instructions, but it's also encouraging guys, Win that header, Good tackle, that sort of thing. The more I'm talking the better."

He says the key is maintaining consistency for 90 minutes a game every game, and it is a challenge he embraces.

You can play a great game for 89 minutes, but if you switch off and make a mistake in the 90th, you become the villain."

Tribbett's experience, leadership qualities, and strong aerial presence have proven to be perfect attributes for a center back. His skills have led him on a professional soccer journey he hardly could have imagined when he started playing the game at 5 years old, gradually working his way through the youth soccer development pyramid like so many other American kids.

"When I was 16 I played in a tournament in Lorain, Ohio with Rush Select,” he said about one of his fondest memories from his youth career. “It was a round robin tournament that featured teams that included Blackburn Rovers from England, Chivas and Club America from Mexico, and the Venezuelan youth national team. Phil Jones, now a defender for Manchester United, was on the Blackburn team. Winning that tournament is one of my fondest memories. Playing and winning against competition like that made me think a professional career was possible."

In many respects, Tribbett’s journey is one the modern game has taken. His play combines the vision and skills of a midfielder with a tenacity and competitive instinct to not only stop attacks but start them as well with a well-placed pass. His aerial prowess, ability to read the game and communicate with his teammates make him an important part of Penn FC. Tribbett recalled a piece of advice he received from a college coach when he was still in high school, who told him to “…always try to be one of the three best players on the field on any given day, regardless of whether it's training or games."

This is certainly an approach Tribbett has taken to heart.

To see Tribbett and Penn FC in action, buy your tickets for the home opener right here.


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Northville, Michigan 48167

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