TRAFTON KENNEY - Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The past two years have been a tumultuous ride for 24-year old American Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg and Troyes AC which explains why the netminder is looking for a change of scenery.
After a disastrous 2008/2009 season, Troyes was relegated from Ligue 2, a new nadir for the Champagne-based club that had played against the likes of Marseille and Lyon in Ligue 1 as recently as 2006.
"Usually relegations are the result of bad chemistry," the Clairefontaine Academy graduate told YA. "Players' egos took over the locker room, everyone didn't care anymore and we had a horrible losing streak. Five or six players left the club because the new people in charge felt they were interfering with the good health of the team and that they were responsible for the lack of success."
Shortly after the team's relegation, Troyes was sold to a local businessman who reshuffled the organization, bringing in new personnel with a background in soccer. When the new soccer director informed Westberg he was surplus to requirements, the American began considering other options in France as well as abroad.
"The [director] didn't expect much of me and he told me I was free to go if I wanted," said Westberg. "I was really close to signing in Portugal in the first division, but it took more time than expected and I was due back in the club for preseason. My new coach told me he liked me. He said 'you're fresh mentally and you bring something different to the team and you'll be my starter.'"
Facing a lower level of competition, Westberg emerged as a key figure in goal for Troyes this season, racking up 34 appearances in net, more games than he had played in all of his five seasons at Troyes combined. The transition from substitute to starting goalkeeper was a welcome challenge for Westberg.
"It's hard to adjust, just because people expect so much from you and they don't expect you to be up to the task because you're a backup keeper," he said of his starting role. "It was also difficult because we were the team to beat, it was like we were playing a cup game every weekend. Even though the division wasn't what I expected, it was great in terms of concentration. I had one or two saves to make and I had to keep concentration. As a keeper, it was good experience."
With Westberg in goal, Troyes started well and finished third in Ligue 3, earning a quick promotion back to Ligue 2. The French-born goalkeeper chalks the team's improvement up to improved morale among his teammates who knew how important a top three finish would be to the club and its supporters.
"[Promotion] was an obligation for us really, it's a level the club hasn't played at for years," Westberg explained. "We had to bounce back this year because the club was under a lot of pressure. If we hadn't been promoted, it would have been a great disaster financially. We started the season really well, scoring a lot of goals, and when it got harder towards the end of the year, we were able to be strong mentally."
Despite a breakout season, Westberg will be looking for a new team this summer when his contract expires at the end of this month. The Suresnes native, who has spent his entire professional career at Troyes, admitted his exit was the result of inner conflict between soccer director Frédéric Adam and coach Patrick Remy.
"The coach really wanted me to stay but the [soccer] director didn't," he lamented. "I really felt betrayed, it's been a long time with me and this club but at the same time, I feel it's a new opportunity to go elsewhere, in Europe or France, we'll see. I wouldn't mind experiencing a new league. The only thing im looking for is playing time really, playing 40 games is way more interesting than playing four or five cup games a year.
With plenty of games under his belt, Westberg remains optimistic he can build on last season's progress.
"It's been a good season for me," Westberg concluded. "I established myself throughout the games to play a big role at the end. I feel confident that I'll find a new challenge."