Melbourne City boss Warren Joyce has added to the club’s defensive stocks by signing an n-born, American-raised defender Harrison Delbridge on a three-year deal.
Sydney-born Delbridge is a 193-centimetre-tall centre-back who has played in the US’ second tier, the United Soccer League (USL), with FC Cincinnati.
The club finished sixth in the eastern conference last season but were knocked out in the play-off quarter-finals.
But Delbridge and his teammates enjoyed a tremendous run in the US Open Cup, seeing off top-tier opposition from the MLS in Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew before losing in extra time to Red Bull New York (for whom current City teammate Tim Cahill once played) in the semi-finals.
The 25-year-old moved with his parents to the US when he was 10. During his career Delbridge has twice been named in the USL All-League Team and has been his club’s defensive player of the Year, having started in 30 games for Cincinnati this year.
Delbridge began training at City this week, and the club says he was spotted by City Football Group’s scouts some time ago, with negotiations to bring him back to taking place during the US season.
Joyce has proved himself keen to use central defenders not just at the back but in midfield too, where the likes of Michael Jakobsen and Osama Malik (suspended for next weekend’s game against Newcastle) have been deployed in front of Iacopo La Rocca and Bart Schenkenveld.
“Harrison is a player we believe will make a positive contribution for Melbourne City. He has impressed as one of the USL’s best defensive players for the past two years and his performances have made him a target for several MLS clubs. We have a desire to develop Harrison and we believe he will bring an important presence to our backline as a composed and strong defender,” Joyce said in a statement.
Delbridge began his playing career as a junior in North Carolina’s Capital Area Soccer League and then via the American college soccer system at Appalachian State University.
He signed his first professional contract with Sacramento Republic in March 2014, before transferring to Portland Timbers 2 and eventually FC Cincinnati in 2016.
Delbridge said he was “really excited’ to be coming to the A-League.
“To be a part of such a talented squad and learn from an experienced coach like Warren is the ideal situation for me to develop and grow as a player at this time in my career. I am looking to settle into Melbourne as quickly as possible and train hard with the team.”
The American season has now finished, but Delbridge cannot play for City until the transfer window opens in January.