Though they didn’t hate each other personally, their teams were rivals in the Academy.
“Our teams didn’t like each other, it was a big rivalry,” Cochran said. “I think in the amount of times we played them, the Illinois side had the better record.”
“They were real, real talented where we were more tactical and strict in our approach.” said Fink.
In their last year with SLSG, both Fink and Cochran led their U18 Academy teams to the playoffs, the first time in the history of St. Louis Scott Gallagher both U18 Academy teams made accomplished the feat in the same season.
Their partnership at the back began soon after when they returned from college one summer for a U20 team and played in State Cup, Regionals and other competitions.
“I was excited,” said Cochran. “Sam and I play the exact same way. You always want to play with someone that’s going to make your job easier and is going to compliment you and I think we compliment each other very well.”
With two Academy teams in the same club, the players would imagine how successful they could be if they combined forces and play with the best eleven. “We used to say both our teams did well individually, but imagine if we were together with all the best players on the field, and coming back, we were able to do that.” explained Fink.
Fink went on to play college soccer at Wake Forest, and Cochran at Wisconsin. Although their teams never played each other in college, the two still kept an eye on each other.
“I knew Sam played for Wake Forest… It’s a small community and easy to keep up with everyone that played in the St. Louis area,” said Cochran.
“In my eyes, growing up, he was always a much bigger deal.” said Fink. “I was always aware of him and he got called into the national team a couple of times. It was someone I knew going on to be successful and made me want to have that too.”
Both players praise SLSG for giving them the opportunity to compete at the highest level, which prepared them for successful careers in intercollegiate soccer and now at the professional level.
“Saint Louis Scott Gallagher forced me to train harder and to be a better soccer player,” Fink said.
In 2015, professional outdoor soocer returned to St. Louis. One of the corner stones in the club’s inaugural season, Fink would go on to be named the supporter’s player of the year and lead the team in goals that season.
Cochran, who was drafted by the Houston Dynamo in the first round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, chose to sign with Saint Louis FC prior to this season and help build a professional club in his home city.
“It’s awesome having someone playing next to you that you know is going to be there. AJ and I play similarly which makes it easy playing alongside each other,” said Fink.
Cochran responded saying, “I think we compliment each other. We are always going to have each other’s back.”
They don’t compete against each other anymore, instead viewing the new partnership as beneficial for the team success.
“We are both winners, we like winning,” Fink said. “The team success is how we will achieve individual success.”
The duo, which started as compeitors are now “All Fleur One”.