Richard Foster a perfect match for Detroit City FC, head coach Trevor James
Detroit — Richard Foster was a little concerned about overcoming his accent.
But once the new Detroit City FC player-coach, who hails from Scotland, learned that club captain Stephen Carroll was an Ireland native, well, that certainly took care of that.
"I'm trying to slow down when I speak, because I've had a few quizzical looks as to, 'What is this guy saying?'" Foster said. "You get it more like when you're training and chatting to some of the younger guys. ... But the captain's Irish, so if you can understand him, you can understand anyone."
After joining DCFC on the road in Charleston last week, Foster, alongside the new signing at forward, Cy Goddard, are expected to be available in Saturday night's home game against Indy Eleven.
Foster was officially announced as a new signing at player-coach by DCFC in mid-August. He's played more than 400 matches in the Scottish Premiership, dating back to 2003, primarily working as a right back. He made his journey to America as a 37-year-old near the start of his coaching career and the end of his playing days.
He's equal parts nervous and excited.
"(USL Championship) is progressing, the club itself is the same. It's kind of gradually progressed over the years, so I'm excited about that," Foster said. "I'm a little bit nervous because I've watched the league; I've not played in it, I've not coached in it. But I'm just going to kind of give it my all, give it my best shot, and hopefully that's enough.
"I'm gonna fully kinda throw myself into it. There's no point in coming all the way over here and kind of just skirting around the edges."
He'll certainly have a good mentor. DCFC head coach Trevor James, who just coached his 100th game with the club last week, has coached at every level of American soccer. Foster and James met a handful of years ago at a course in Scotland to obtain their UEFA A-level coaching licenses.
"In some of the sessions that he did, he had a good way about him, the way he would talk to the players and deliver messages," James said. "So I always kept that in my mind ... that he was probably gonna be a good coach."
And once Foster "made it clear that he'd love to come to America" during that course, James made sure to keep an eye on him and stay in touch.
Foster, who was described by James as "intense ... competitive ... knowledgable," is the perfect counter to James' laid-back approach. Foster might raise his voice, but it won't be disrespectful. He's been in the game too long, had too many varied experiences with veterans as a younger player, to destroy the precarious nature of those relationships.
In a way, he's been coaching for years — and will be a perfect middle-man between James and his squad.
"In the last few years of my career, I'm trying to pass on my experience and help. And you know, probably more so the last couple of years, (it's) not just with the football side," Foster said.
"(If) the younger players, they're not playing or wanting to go see the manager, stuff like that, I'm trying to advise them, like, 'You don't need to do that,' or, 'Do it in a different way,' because I'm starting to think, 'If I'm on that side and players are coming to see me, how would I deal with it?'"
Last week in Charleston, Foster already got a glimpse of what his coaching role for DCFC would look like.
"I used him as a sounding board for the weekend," James said, "and obviously wanted him to observe everything, give me feedback from what he saw, and so it was a big advantage to have him there."
Foster is expecting to feel culture shock as he begins a soccer life in America. He said he's actually looking forward to it — with the exception of training in Charleston, South Carolina, which he described as "heat like I've never felt before."
But mainly, he's excited to play in front of DCFC's rabid fanbase, which he said appears to match the intensity of crowds back home, but loves the club and its players in a more unconditional manner.
"It seems to me that a lot around sport in America is just different. There's a more positive vibe and ... if you just give back, if you give them everything you've got, the fans respond to that," Foster said. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you draw, and they'll accept you as long as you've given it what you got."
"That, for me, was a real kind of attraction, because back home, if you lose, you've not worked hard enough. And if you win, you're great."
As far as what his player role will look like on matchdays, that's still a bit up in the air. Foster plays right back, primarily, but can also play wing back, fullback, and whatever else might be required on the defensive half.
But allow Foster to describe what his style of football looks like when he's playing at the peak of his game: "Defending relatively aggressively, winning tackles, closing people down, winning interceptions ... You'll typically always get aggression, work rate. I'll always try my best. On the better days, my passing will be good, my quality into the box will be good," he said.
"And on my poorer days, I'll just be aggressive."
Detroit City FC vs. Indy Eleven
► When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
► Where: Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck
► TV/Streaming: ESPN+/WMYD TV20 Detroit