Tyler Pasher describes himself as a country lover when it comes to music taste. When it comes to his soccer career, he can also be described as a country lover. Canada, England, Finland, the United States: he’s dribbled through all of them. Each country, and the clubs he’s represented, holds a special place in his development as a person and player.
Pasher, 21, grew up in Elmira, Ontario. “Nobody played soccer in my town,” he says. “I grew up in a hockey community.” But by age five or six, Pasher decided he wanted to kick a ball instead of slap a puck and he became the only one in his family to play soccer. Instead of playing for a high school or college team while growing up, Pasher split his time for about four or five years between Canada, where he played in Ontario’s Provincial Program, and Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where he was a member of Premier League heavyweight Newcastle United FC’s academy.
As a kid, his favorite player was Bayern Munich star and Netherlands captain Arjen Robben, and the similarities in playing style are evident. “Just the style I grew up developing myself to play, I kind of groomed it to be like his,” he explains.
When Pasher was 16 years old, he returned to Canada and joined Major League Soccer side Toronto FC’s academy, which ended his time in England with Newcastle. While with TFC, he appeared in an exhibition match against Liverpool in 2012 – another chance to face an English titan. Pasher says that transitioning from Newcastle to Toronto was, to this point, the most difficult time of his young career because Newcastle and England was somewhere he had always wanted to live and play.
But really, he just wants to play this game for as long as he possibly can. A game he has given and continues to give his heart and soul to.
Right now, that means Kansas City and the Swope Park Rangers. He is a winger for the United Soccer League’s newest club, has been with the club for almost two months and has appeared in the club’s first two games – both victories.
“It’s been great,” he says of his time so far with the Rangers. “Everyone’s together as a unit. Everyone gets along great with each other. We really seem to have a really good brotherhood.”
Prior to joining the Rangers, Pasher was working construction in Toronto – dealing with types of steel and framing work. He had just finished his 2015 USL season with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and was even nominated for the club’s Goal of the Year. Despite enjoying his time in Pittsburgh, he was facing uncertainty heading into the offseason – unsure which team he would play for and which opportunity was the best fit. Then one day in the offseason, his agent told him about the Swope Park Rangers.
“I knew nothing about them of course. They’re a brand new team, but the head coach, Marc (Dos Santos), happens to be Phillip Dos Santos’ brother, who coached me on the Canadian U-20 National Team,” Pasher says, “so I had somewhat of an understanding of what (Marc) would be like as a coach – if he was anything like his brother.
“I knew (Marc would be) a great person to learn from. I jumped at the opportunity to go. I found out about the preseason trip two days before I had to be there. Pack up everything, get myself a flight and get down to Arizona as fast as I could.”
Pasher trained with the team for three days in Tucson before being thrust into the starting lineup to face the Colorado Rapids in the Desert Diamond Cup. The Rangers came out victorious, 3-1, and Pasher earned himself a contract with the club after four impressive outings at the preseason tournament.
The fashion in which Pasher arrived in Arizona mirrors how he was called up to his first Canadian Men’s National Team camp at 20 years old. He describes it as a “call me at 10 o’clock at night, be on a plane at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning,” situation. He has trained himself to be equipped to go wherever the next opportunity may be, and his time in Finland with PS Kemi in 2013, after his time with Toronto FC, helped prepare him for any circumstance.
“The one environment that sticks out to me the most has to be the Finland one,” Pasher says. “The language barrier, being that far away from home and seven hours ahead in the time zone, not being able to see my family for a year straight, trying to make friends with complete strangers. It was difficult, but it was a great learning experience.”
So, yes, Pasher has played in a lot of different places with a lot of different people. Maybe the Rangers will prove to be his home for a while, a place and a club that already stands out to him among all the others in his past.
“It’s an environment where everybody is treated equally and respected and really cherished,” he says. “Everybody gets a fair chance to show what he has. If you work hard and you’re performing, you’re going to get your chance to play. Everybody is together. Everybody is great with each other. I have a great understanding with every teammate.”