By Jimmy LaRoue
Bethesda SC Freedom Under-17s coach Jonathan Morgan can’t separate the dynamic duo of Jordan Coburn and Ally Grossman.
The two have played side by side as center backs for the last two seasons on one of the top club teams in the nation, and with both heading to Division I colleges in the fall – Coburn to Virginia Tech and Grossman to Yale – Morgan believes their futures are bright, with both having national team potential.
“I think in terms of players to watch, watch them as freshman,” Morgan said. “I really do think they’re two special players.”
Both have also had stellar high school careers, Coburn at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Md. and Grossman at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C.
Because of their potential, and the ability they’ve shown already, they’re the girls’ Korrio Players to Watch for April.
While center backs don’t normally get to be as dynamic as a central midfielder, Morgan said, the two have the ability to carve people up.
During the Freedom’s 2-0 win against Mustang FC (Calif.) at the Elite Clubs National League San Diego showcase last weekend, Coburn didn’t feel like she had accomplished much, but she was part of a stellar defensive effort that kept Mustang’s powerful forwards scoreless.
“After the game, Jordan’s like, ‘I don’t feel like I really did anything,’” revealed Morgan. “I said, ‘You defended for 90 minutes. You defended hard for 90 minutes. That’s a lot.’”
Mustang repeatedly tried to use their height advantage by whipping balls into the penalty box, but Coburn and Grossman were stout in shutting down the attack.
“Jordan and Ally were just going up the air and just clearing balls,” Morgan said.
But neither are one-dimensional players.
“Jordan, toward the end of the game, saw an opportunity, carried the ball out of the back herself, brought it up, got a shot off,” Morgan said. “It just completely demoralized them. All of a sudden, they’re back on their heels saying, ‘The center back’s doing this.’”
It’s that kind of potential that has Virginia Tech coach Chugger Adair excited about Coburn heading to Blacksburg in the fall.
“Jordan is a center back from experience with her club team and her high school years,” Adair said after the school announced her commitment for the fall. “She is going to come in and compete and contribute to deepen our position at center back, but also with the possibility of playing left back. She is very versatile, athletic and smart kid. We look forward to her impact and making us better along the backline.”
And Grossman has displayed ball skills that not only help shut down a team’s attack, but can start one for Bethesda.
“Ally’s so good on the ball,” Morgan said. “She can make people look a little foolish. She sucks them in, does something, and gets around them. Now they’re running after her.”
Both had key passes that led to the team’s two goals against Mustang.
They’re “super solid,” he said, both with the potential to excel in college and beyond.
“It’s funny, the two of them are constantly bickering at each other,” Morgan said. “But you ask them about it, [they say], ‘It’s just us. We’re always in each other’s face. We’ll be in each other’s face yelling at each other about something,’ then you’ll turn around and one goes forward, the other provides cover for ‘em. The other one goes forward, the other one covers.”
Because they’re comfortable with each other, and confident that they have each other’s back on the field, Morgan said his dynamic duo has the freedom to do things that most center backs don’t get to do, or aren’t capable of doing.
“We give them the freedom to do that,” Morgan said. “You know, sometimes it comes back to bite us, but at the next level, whether they’re center backs or outside backs, they’re going to have to have that confidence on the ball, and really, the only way you can get confidence on the ball is if you’re allowed to have the ball on your foot.”
For the last two years, they’ve been the pair that has helped hold Bethesda’s defense together, and the team’s results speak for themselves, with multiple titles and honors between them.
“Really, I can’t separate the two,” Morgan said. “They’re two peas in a pod.”