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Michael Gamble reunites with Ryan Martin and the DMV

The 26-year-old returns home to the coach who discovered him.

Xavi Dussaq / Courtesy of Loudoun United

The career of Michael Gamble has landed in some eclectic areas, up to an including his life.

“Yeah, I was born in England. My dad was in the Air Force, I was born on an Air Force base, I remember living in America but I had moved like Australia to Mexico for a bit, but I’ve always kind of been in America.”

Born in Bedford, near the center of England, Gamble found himself playing with the Baltimore Bays and Baltimore Bohemians, the latter of which was his club when the New England Revolution drafted him in the 2nd round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. He spent that season on loan with the Rochester Rhinos before eventually heading to the Tulsa Roughnecks, before spending his 2019 season with Deportes Santa Cruz, in Chile’s second division. He has remained in touch with Loudoun United coach Ryan Martin, who brought him in to play college soccer at Wake Forest when Martin was an assistant and recruiter, and the chance to return close to home, to play for a coach he admires, was too good to pass up.

“I think the biggest reason why he brought me into it was I worked with him (at Wake) so I’m very familiar with his style of play, and being with a younger group, you need somebody that already has an existing relationship with how he likes to play, and be that connect between the coaching staff and the players.”

While Gamble has not been around Loudoun as much as team captain Peabo Doue, he does feel comfortable with a seamless leadership presence with the 28-year-old. “We’re able to kind of play off of each other, some guys might gravitate more towards him some might gravitate more towards me but I think that you know works for us. We’ve kind of grown up in the same area as well so we kind of have a similar mindset about how to play (and) how to be professional. Peabo has been like one of the best relationships I’ve had on the team so far.”

In addition, the returns to play in Germany and Spain have served as a preview for what the team may experience. “Germany’s been a good example for us, we’ve seen a bunch of injuries there and they’re people that have all the resources. We’ve had Ryan and the rest of the coaching staff to their absolute best to just make sure we’re staying in shape, staying motivated and positive. I’m more in control of my emotions now so I know there’s the excitement of coming back and just wanting to get after right away, but I’m also aware that you need to be smart that and recognize that it’s different. Me and Peabo ecognize that these guys are young, as much as you know we expect everybody to be following the whole fitness offseason package, it’s still not gonna make sure we transition back perfectly. So I think a lot of it’s going to come down to just being open with each other.”

“I’ve known Mikey since he was maybe 14 or 15 when I recruited him to Wake Forest out of Baltimore,” Martin said. “He was a National High School Player, is a top competitor and he will absolutely be a huge driving force whether he plays as a 10 or plays wide or even as a false nine at times, his ability to get behind, his ability to go one on one is just very dynamic. And he’s a very good leader, he helps the young guys quite a bit, so you know he’ll kind of be our big focal point. We’re kind of in a weird situation where we had a number of guys that we had signed but didn’t get their visa until recently, but Mikey will kind of be the one that brings it all together.”

Like Doue, Gamble is looking at this new tact of professional life with enthusiasm. “it’s definitely a different perspective for me. I’m only 26 years old, (and) I’m usually kind of in the middle of my career, now I’m in a position where I’m one of the oldest guys and so it’s definitely kind of figuring out how to really be a leader (on) the team. Having a relationship with Ryan, I’m expecting to play big minutes, (and be) a big part of this team. Obviously the expectation is that I come and perform every single game, but it’s also trying to make the guys around me better players. What’s that saying, you reach for perfection, but accept excellence, so you know I’d love to win a championship, but if we can get to the playoffs, if we can get there with guys performing well, going either off to college or signing (a) professional contract, (then) I know that i was able to play a big part of that.”