OGDC has announced the return of fullback Owen Sheehy. The Bethesda native is a product of Gonzaga High School and the University of Wisconsin. The 23-year-old has played for multiple USA representative and age-grade sides, including the recent USA Falcons side that played two matches in Uruguay last month.
Having joined the team in 2021, Sheehy only saw limited usage in his first season, putting in 40 minutes in the last three matches of the season. However, he immediately jumped out as a player who had a lot of potential. He possesses deceptive speed - he never seems like he's running full tilt, yet he still manages to get places far sooner than anyone's expecting. He also has an excellent sense for the game, which means he is always where he needs, doing the things he needs to do. He still lacked a couple of key things, though. First was simply strength. He was a bit of a beanpole, which made it a little too easy for opponents to fend him off in one-on-one tackles. He also lacked a certain amount of confidence, leading him to hesitate and avoid fully committing in some situations.
2022 was a dramatic step up for Sheehy. Due to injuries and visa issues early on, he was put straight into the starting lineup from week one. As the roster returned to full strength, he went back to primarily playing in off the bench, but he still racked up 6 starts in 12 appearances for a total of 498 minutes on the season. He played a much more physical game, having come back from the offseason noticeably more muscular. He gained 534 meters, an average of 10 per carry, and he beat 10 defenders. He does still have areas to work on, though, as his 71% tackle rate is on the low side.
Sheehy is on a fairly crowded part of the roster. With Sa'u and Fraser looking like they will play more on the wing this season and the return of Mike Dabulas from injury, it's Sheehy might struggle to break into the matchday lineups. Hopefully, though, he continues to develop in training and can challenge for a spot. Should injury strike, as it inevitably will, he is great option off the bench.
It doesn't feel like we've seen anything close to Sheehy's final form, which is what makes him one of the more interesting players on the team. Getting 100% out of him will be the task of the new coach Josh Syms, and it will be fun to watch.
Curious who has been signed and who is leaving? Check out our 2023 Signings Tracker for all the updates!