There’s many questions that pop up with a new W-League season. Will the Wanderers or Adelaide finally crack the top four? Who’s gonna win the golden boot award now Sam Kerr has left? What formation is Heather Garriock actually using?
One that’s topped the list this season has been, who’s that non-American Wanderers centre back and is she Australian? With the opportunity to discuss this question with said defender, Alexandra Huynh, it was far too good of a chance to ask whether she has any sights on playing for the Matildas,
“Who doesn’t want to play for the Matildas. But at the same time, it’s not my main focus. I’m just focusing on the W-League,” Huynh replied to the opening question.
“I wouldn’t say no,” carrying on to joke, “Imagine saying ‘sorry boys I have an NPL game’. But definitely would love to [play for the Matildas].”
A route that’s becoming increasingly popular for young Australian players is playing in America’s college system. Huynh was one of the players who forged that path.
“To do something a little bit different,” explaining the reason she left to play in the US.
College fulfilled her hopes of competitive football and travel, while already having friends who were doing the same. However, there was another incentive behind the decision.
“Then watching Bend it Like Beckham.. I was just like ‘oh my god, I wanna go do that’.”
“I’ve always kinda done things a little different to everybody else. So why not.”
Huynh spent three years at the University of Colorado before a final year experiencing a very different environment in Alabama, graduating from Troy University.
This W-League season, a full deck of American imports have been game changers on the pitch, but they’ve been bringing more to the Wanderers than banging goals.
“They’re a different level, you can see it on the field when they play,” the centre back reveals.
“They’re a class above and also they’re top people. Which makes such a difference. So it’s bringing that other element. They’ve been so open and willing to get amongst it all and that helps so much.”
A throwback to a couple months before the start of the W-League, and the decision to play this season was still up in the air for Huynh. Studying for her Masters in Public Health in Brisbane while playing in Queensland’s NPL, it was a phone call from Catherine Cannuli that set the ball rolling for the 25 year olds return to West Sydney.
“[I was asked] would you be interested in coming down for a trial? I figured ‘why not’,”
“I’ve got so many support systems down here, so I came down for a two week trial. Then after the first week Heff [Dean Hefferman] offered me a contract. Two weeks later I moved down here for preseason.”
Huynh’s expectations for the season were simple,
“I didn’t really have.. ‘I wanna be starting, I wanna be this or that’. I just wanted to get amongst it and I know it’s so cheesy, but to get better.”
Humble in her expectations, Huynh is quick to appreciate and acknowledge the support system the Wanderers have developed this season for helping her find form,
“Our support system, Heff, Nulls [Catherine Cannuli] and Megsy [Michael Beauchamp], they’re all just so encouraging.”
“Everybody genuinely enjoys being there, which makes it much more of a productive environment.”
One thing’s certain, the Wanderers environment is seeing the combination of Huynh and Sam Staab thrive.
“It’s always like ‘are we gonna vibe, are we not,’” Huynh describes upon first meeting her defensive partner in crime,
“Also playing football is such a weird dynamic because it’s a work environment, but it’s not. At the same time you need results.”
“She’s such a good person. She’s so open to ideas, we kind of bounce off each other. Straight away when I met her, I kinda knew she was going to be easy to work with, if that makes sense.”
“There’s not a bad word I would say about her at all.”
There’s little doubt Western Sydney Wanderers are shaping up as the real deal, which Huynh puts down to a cultural shift,
“It’s not just ‘oh we’re going to be in the top four’. We’re not saying it just to say it. There’s been a mentality change,” she admits before speaking on the environment and respect the club is affording this side.
“Resources are being allocated in a way that’s more beneficial for the W-League team. So it feels like we’re coming into our own at the moment.”
“I genuinely think we have a chance at the top four easy, if not go all the way to win the grand final.”
With a bye the weekend leading into round six, all eyes for the Wanderers is on the derby. Huynh holds back no punches on what the match could mean for her,
“I want nothing more than to beat them,” Huynh begins,
“Someone said there was a stat the other day, we’ve only beaten them once. Sorry, what? That’s insane.”
“So to win, that would be.. Offt, just so we’d have bragging rights. I just want to puff my chest out to be honest.”
“And I think all the girls are kinda like that. We don’t just want to win. We want to convincingly win. So we’re all pretty stoked for that one.”
On the tune of statistics, Huynh pulled out another one. The Wanderers have never had an away game and not conceded.
“What a stat. I said ‘alright boys, we’re gonna win it, we’re not gonna concede’, she begins recounting the match against Melbourne Victory, “and then 7 minutes we’re down.”
“I thought ‘what’s going on?’.. Obviously you were the reason they scored,” Huynh adds, joking about my own unfortunate record with ever watching the Wanderers win live.
For fans watching the match in Morwell, the final five minutes was intense. That same feeling was felt on the pitch.
“I’ve watched the last five minutes about twenty times. I don’t know how the ball didn’t get in the goal.”
“And Sammy [Staab] on the whistle man. I was like ‘if she scored that, I would’ve died”. I would’ve ripped my shirt off and ran around that stadium no doubt.”
When asked whether that’s the celebration to expect if we see the defender score,
“A thousand percent. But it needs to be a good goal,” clarifying the perfect scenario would need to arise for her to pull that type of response out of the locker.
As our chat wound up, Huynh checks, “Did I answer your question on whether I’m Australian?”
“So my dad is Vietnamese and my mum is Australian. I was born in Fairfield, so literally born and raised in Western Sydney.”
“It doesn’t get any more Western Sydney than that.”