After a soaring start to his Swansea loan, Fletcher eyes ambitious goals for club and country
October 27, 2023
BACK IN SEPTEMBER, Kristian Fletcher joined Swansea City on a short-term loan from DC United that would run through December. The loan was put together through the clubs and it wasn’t surprising given the common ownership that links the two organizations and the desire to give one of DC United’s top homegrowns an opportunity in Europe.
Fletcher turned 18 in August but had only made 10 appearances for a total of 123 minutes in 2023. With DC United pushing for the playoffs down the home stretch of the season, head coach Wayne Rooney opted for veterans in the attack.
On September 20, the loan was announced and Fletcher was told about it about a week before he left. With his father having been born in Scotland, Fletcher had a U.K passport and it made the move legally possible.
“It was my first time, I'll say, not leaving my family for the sport, but leaving them for that long of a period of time,” Fletcher told ASN from Swansea. “But, I've been preparing for this. I've just turned 18 and I would be going to college anyways. It was a good step for me in terms of my level of maturity and just my career in general. I saw it as an opportunity for me to go over into England and not just progress as a player, but kind of leave my mark on that team because I know the history.”
The loan’s purpose was to send Fletcher to Swansea City’s U-21 team, but Fletcher has crushed it so far at that level.
Thus far, he has already registered three braces for Swansea City's U-21 team: in a 4-0 win over Hull City, a 3-1 win over Brighton, and a 6-0 win over Briton Ferry in the League Cup of Wales.
While he is comfortable playing anywhere across the front three, he has been playing as a striker to start his loan – sometimes as a lone No. 9, but sometimes as a dual No. 9 with a partner.
“I came in and, obviously I was a bit nervous in the first training and so anything that comes with kind of playing in Europe, but as soon as you get on the field, all the nerves go away. I've always been a very confident person. So that was it wasn't hard for me to gain that while playing… My first game it was against a decent team, it was a hard fought game and I knew I can leave a mark. And then from kind of setting that bar for myself in the first game, all I've been really trying to do is build on it.”
Fletcher has said that he has set goals for himself when he was over there and some of them include how many times he would start or score. He added that once he set the goals, he “would do anything to try and achieve it.”
But now that he's shown he can score goals in droves for the U-21 team, the two most pressing questions for Fletcher now become whether he will get moved to Swansea City’s first team during this loan and whether his loan will be either extended or if Swansea City will opt to purchase him in a transfer.
Fletcher doesn’t want to reveal specific details of the goals he has set because “I'm also a strong believer of superstition and I don't want to say that stuff out loud” but he also indicated he is not aware of any talks over his future yet. Regardless, Fletcher still has time and wants to completely focus on soccer and not the specifics of his loan.
Local @krisfletch2 continued his strong form for @swans_academy U21’s with a brace against Brighton over the weekend!— DMV Soccer (@DMVSoccer96) October 9, 2023
Fletcher has 6 goals in 6 games since joining Swansea last month ?????? #RepDMV pic.twitter.com/W84KlAbqUO
Superstition aside, with the current pace he is scoring goals, it will be hard to see him not to start training or potentially even making the matchday squads for Swansa's first team soon.
He’s also following the news back home with DC United as the team came up short in making the playoffs down the stretch and head coach Wayne Rooney departed after the season to take the job at Birmingham City. But he hopes that the learning lessons are there for the next manager and the team’s younger players to build a foundation for prolonged success.
But the open question is whether Fletcher will actually be with the team next year. That is currently out of his control. Fletcher has made no secret of his desire to eventually play in the highest levels of Europe and before he signed with DC United, he was linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund.
While Swansea City is not at a top level (the first team is currently 19th in the Championship after 13 games), it could possibly be seen as a good starting point for a young player with limited MLS experience.
Local @krisfletch2 scored the game winning PK last night for @swans_academy U21 as they took down Welsh rivals Cardiff City to advance in the #NathanielMGCup!— DMV Soccer (@DMVSoccer96) September 20, 2023
Fletcher has game winners in back to back games to start off his loan spell with Swansea! pic.twitter.com/iaGCF3wCBx
“I'll always be grateful to DC for giving me a first professional opportunity and I was 17 when I first signed,” Fletcher said. “I was excited. I just became a fulltime professional. We signed players like Christian Benteke, Mateusz Klich and top players. We had a coach like Wayne. There are people like to learn from.”
“I had to prepare for things like this,” he added. “I can't use age as an excuse or whatever. I have some goals in my career that I want to reach and in order to reach some of them, I need to be playing in Europe. I was very, very excited for it and happy for it. I'm back playing again, so I'm able to show people what I can do and show myself what I can do.”
Fletcher was born in Maryland and grew up in a soccer family with a father born in Scotland but with both parents raised in the Caribbean. Naturally, he grew up with the sport in his family and everyone was an Arsenal supporter. Also, soccer was frequently played among family members.
But this family environment also gave Fletcher international goals in addition to club goals. During the last cycle, Fletcher earned a few call-ups to the U.S. U-20 team while playing up a cycle but did not make the final team for qualifying or the U-20 World Cup. He also spent time with the U.S. U-19 team in 2023, where he scored a goal against Racing and started against Argentina in a March trip. But the new U-20 cycle will be getting underway early in 2024 with qualifying potentially taking place next summer.
As a 2005-born player, Fletcher is eligible for the United States at the 2025 U-20 World Cup and the U.S. U-23 team at both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. But with the upcoming U-20 team, he is a very strong candidate to be a core member and that is something he can’t wait to begin.
“This new U-20 team coming through now is filled with talent and ability,” Fletcher said. “I think that we should go far. I know we have the U-20 World Cup coming up in 2025. Obviously, a goal of mine for that is to win the World Cup. But that’s the goal for every single team – to win the World Cup. So, it's a pretty common goal. But a U.S. team has never won one. I kind of want to be the difference maker there. There's also the Olympics next summer.”