For three seasons, all Amanda Frisbie wanted was to get on the field. And then all of a sudden she was in Iceland, a far away land that she hoped held the key to regaining her confidence as a soccer player. No sooner did she get off the plane than she was thrust exactly where she longed to be—on the soccer field.
“I literally played less than 24 hours later,” Frisbie said of starting the Icelandic Women’s Cup semifinal for FC Stjarnan. In a match Frisbie would later learn was the club’s worst of the season, Stjarnan fell 3-2 to Breidablik. The loss ended a two-year reign as Cup champions for Stjarnan. Breidablik, the club’s archrival, lifted the trophy three weeks later.
“I wouldn’t have minded a couple of extra days, but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes,” Frisbie said. “It was tough. I was actually a little worried after that game.”
It made sense for Frisbie to worry. After a groin injury cost her all of her rookie season in Seattle she was more often than not passed over for playing time during a season of discontent in Western New York and the first half of 2016 in Kansas City. When the Blues granted her release to pursue opportunities overseas, Frisbie’s NWSL stat line included just 7 games, only 5 of which were starts.
“I was at a point where I needed to make a decision for myself,” she explained. “I haven’t gotten a lot of playing time in NWSL. I had been reluctant about going overseas for awhile. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be for me. But there was a time in Kansas where it was like, ‘okay I’ve been in the league three seasons now and this is a time where I just need to do something different, change it up a little bit.’”
Fortunately, her debut match for Stjarnan when she was tired and jetlagged was an aberration. She was a forward that evening, but soon after both of the club’s center backs left—one at the end of a loan and one to return to college—and Frisbie found herself as a fixture in the middle of the defense.
“I ended up playing the rest of the games at center back.” More importantly the team thrived, leaving the Cup defeat behind them and settling in at the top of the table. “After that game (we) were a totally different team.”
On September 30, Stjarnan defeated FH Hafnarfjordur, 4-0 to claim the league championship.
“I really enjoyed playing there,” Frisbie said, adding that she spent time visiting some of Iceland’s famed hot springs. “I was playing with a lot of freedom, and my confidence was through the roof. It hasn’t been that way in (NWSL).
“That team works extremely hard for each other and not just for themselves. Fundamentally they’re really good. They play the game the right way. In the U.S. it’s very transition based; everyone is extremely athletic and quick and fast and strong—which is great. But in Iceland there is a lot more patience. That’s the way I like to play the game.”
If it is not obvious from Frisbie’s wording, she is planning on taking her newfound confidence elsewhere in 2017. Her first choice is a return to NWSL as a center back, but with no contractual ties to speak of she is biding her time and weighing her options. A trip to a different overseas locale remains very much in the cards.
“It’s been a weird road for me,” the still 24-year old acknowledged. “I know it looks bad from the outside. I’m sure a lot of people have written me off. But it’s just how the journey goes. I think I’m more than capable of playing in this league and making a difference and that’s what I want to do. I want to find a team that’s going to believe in me and give me a chance. I want to go somewhere and make that difference.”
Three Januarys ago Frisbie was a 1st round pick so coveted by Reign coach Laura Harvey that she joked about being mad at Meg Linehan, then with Equalizer, for a glowing story about Frisbie that she feared would price her out of range of the 7th pick. But once the groin lingered long enough to put all of 2014 on the shelf, Frisbie found it difficult to bounce back.
“If you haven’t made a major impact already, I think the moment you get injured or the moment you make mistakes you are pretty quickly written off, or at least thrown to the side a little bit,” she said. “After that it’s very hard to get another major opportunity. At least that’s how my journey has felt.”
Wherever that journey takes Frisbie in 2017 and beyond, she is glad to have spent her time in Iceland where she just may have found the confidence necessary to take her to greater heights.
“It was really great. It was an amazing experience for me. I learned a ton. I went there originally (because) I just needed playing time. Going there was the right decision for me. It’s a beautiful country as well. Two months was the perfect amount of time for me to be there and I’m happy I did it.”