One of the bright spots in a mixed campaign for Sydney FC last season was American striker Jasmyne Spencer, who was not only effective in front of goal but brought infectious enthusiasm to the Sky Blues camp.
Blessed with a sunny disposition and with a smile always at the ready, Spencer instantly fitted in at Sydney despite arriving with little time to get acquainted.
Playing in the No9 role, the diminutive Spencer scored twice on debut for the Sky Blues, eventually accruing eight goals in her 13 appearances. And Spencer enjoyed her spell in Australia so much, she has returned for another campaign with the Sydneysiders.
“I was a last-minute addition last year, and the team were short on attacking players, so a little bit I was a missing puzzle piece,” says Spencer. “Luckily I had good chemistry and fitted in well with the players around me.”
Last year Spencer arrived in Australia with another American in defender Samantha Johnson, while this year it is goalkeeper Michelle Betos who has also made the journey.
“I think the (Sydney FC) girls are all tremendous people, and they helped so much in terms of getting acquainted and helping Michelle (Betos) and I feel comfortable, and that is a huge testament to everyone,” Spencer said.
“They went out of their way to make us be comfortable, and that also helps us transition to fitting in on the field.”
Indeed it was an Aussie connection Stateside that led to the New Yorker from Long Island arriving Down Under. She was talked around by her Aussie teammates at Western New York Flash, which included Teigen Allen, Sam Kerr and Lydia Williams
“I had a ton of fun playing up top with Sam Kerr, and we had a lot of success together,” Spencer says with a distinctive American accent. “I was her number one fan at the World Cup.”
Watch Spencer run around with high energy and an infectious enthusiasm, and it is clear she has deep-set passion for the game.
“I just enjoy it so much,” said Spencer. “It is difficult as a woman athlete, you don’t necessarily get all the financial benefits, so you have to be in it for the love of the game.
“Every time I step out onto the field I’m having fun and clearly it shows on my face.”
Remarkably, Sydney’s strong line-up crashed to a 6-0 opening defeat against Melbourne City, before then succumbing 3-0 to champions Canberra United last weekend.
However, Spencer says it is just a matter of time before they find form. “This year we have so much more attacking power,” she said. “And we are still working on that chemistry, but when it comes we will hit full stride.”
The next chance to get that chemistry right will be this Sunday’s much-awaited derby against Western Sydney Wanderers, to be broadcast on Fox Sports and ABC TV.
“I have never experienced anything like it,” says Spencer of her previous derby experience. “It is awesome how both communities and the whole city are up for it, and it is an incredible atmosphere to be part of.”
Spencer, as it happens, is currently residing in western Sydney but says there is no doubt where her loyalties are. “Sydney brought me over, and I’m definitely sky blue,” she says with a laugh.