Former Lane United FC midfielder Joel Rydstrand has played in Sweden, Spain, and Seattle; but he still treasures his two summers spent in the Willamette Valley with Lane United in 2016 and 2017.
Due to injury, Joel’s playing time was limited in his first year at LUFC. “I was sidelined for most of the season, but aside from that we all had a really good experience with the team, with the city, and with head coach John Galas,” he said. “When I think back...we had a really good group of guys from all over the U.S.”
“We also got to have individual training sessions with the younger guys from Eugene,” highlighted Rydstrand, who cited mentoring younger players as one of the more unique opportunities he experienced with the USL League Two club.
While he was not a participant in LUFC’s homestay program, Rydstrand still emphasized the strong sense of community he felt in Eugene. “I like the kind of small-town vibe you get from Eugene, even though it’s not that small it feels very close, the people are very nice,” he stated. “To me, [the size] is perfect.”
Joel remembers being surprised at the amount of support for the club. “[The fanbase] is really unique for a club at the USL2 level,” he recalled. “We mostly interacted with the Red Aces, who are incredible.” His favorite memory is hearing them in full force against the Sounders U-23s at home.
“The community, I’d say...that’s really what stands out when I came to Eugene—a sense of family and community, whether it was the team winning or losing it felt like the people stood with you,” he said. “That’d probably be one of the better places to have a full pro team.”
Today, Rydstrand is enjoying a successful stint with CD San Roque de Lepe in Spain’s Tercera División. With the team in second place, Joel is one only of three players in the squad to have played every minute so far this season. “That’s what anyone wants, is to get a lot of playing time, especially when the team is doing so well,” he said.
As for his Spanish life, the lockdown hasn’t made life too difficult. “Right now, I live two hours south of Sevilla in a small little beach town...If you get locked down somewhere, this might be the place to be!”