Going Pro

Discussion in 'Youth National Teams' started by turnaround, Jul 30, 2002.

  1. turnaround

    turnaround New Member

    Jul 10, 2001
    Here's the scenario. The kid is a very good player...regional team/national pool. He's 18 and headed for a D1 college in a couple weeks as a freshman. The kid's main goal is to play pro in Europe, then MLS. He's played against some of Europe's top youth teams in the past 18 months and did very well, earning praise from a coach of one of Italy's top youth sides.

    The kid is going to college because that's what most players do....but he really wants to pursue a pro career and feels he's good enough.

    So, what does this kid do? How does he get a trial in Europe? Does he need some sort of agent? If he contacts an agent, is that an NCAA violation?

    I know this sounds like a Dear Abby letter, but I'm looking for some real good advice here. Thanks much.
  2. Bethlehem

    Bethlehem New Member

    May 18, 2002
    Some Advice

    A person may attend a try-out in Europe (without losing NCAA eligibility) IF they pay for their airfare to the tryout and back. The team can put the player up at their expense.

    It is advantageous to have an agent to set up a trial in Europe but that IS a violation of NCAA rules to engage an agent (unless they are a family advisor and receive absolutely no compensation from the family or the tryout club).

    The cruel reality is that if one is not currently on the radar screen of the U-18 or U-20 team, not currently being pursued by the MLS, not willing to lose NCAA eligibility by going through European tryouts at the Club's expense, and/or not on the radar screen of a specific European Club -- then one must go to college. The majority of players who skipped college were pursued by professional clubs or gambled with their eligibility (some winning and some losing).

    Just make sure that the person wrestling with this problem become very familiar with NCAA regulations. That is, read them themselves.
  3. Karl K

    Karl K Member

    Oct 25, 1999
    Suburban Chicago
    Re: Some Advice

    Very good advice -- although, going to a D1 school and play soccer is not exactly a "cruel" fate as a fall-back position.

    By the way, Ned Grabavoy went over the Bayern Munich in his HS senior year, stayed there a couple of weeks, and still maintained his college eligibility. It can be done.

    Meanwhile, even by age 18, there are still some development and maturation possibilities, so a professional career post college, or after a year or two of college, is not outside the realm of possibility.

    Is there an MLS or A-league team nearby? Again, check with NCAA regulations, but I think you can train with such clubs, at your own expense, and not lose amateur eligibility. This way you can REALLY see if you fit into the professional environment.

    Also, make sure that you find ways to play year round once you are in college -- via club teams, PDL, and other options.
  4. fidlerre

    fidlerre Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 10, 2000
    Central Ohio
    Re: Re: Some Advice

    this is correct, you can train with the clubs at your own expense.

    chris leitch, who has been the starting left back for the crew the past few games, would train with the crew when he was home for the summers while playing at north carolina.
  5. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    A number of area college players, Kenny Arena for example, train from time to time with DC United.

    At this time of year, I would suggest the player in question follow through with his college commitment, at least of the Fall playing season. He should start the training with them pretty soon and have a chance to play in matches. If he really stands out in that environment and still has some ankles left, late November is not too late to start looking at a move abroad. The US pro teams won't start training until February, and if he's managed to stand out in his freshman year, that can be a more tangible calling card with which to begin negotiations (a trial overseas during holidays can fit into this as well).

    If a pro team here or abroad is interested at that point, of course he can just drop out of school.

    But to forget about school now, and start looking for a pro deal, wouldn't really make sense if he's not a drop-dead lock for landing a spot (although the idea of attending some training sessions makes sense). November through August is the real problem with a college environment for a player, August through November is a bit more tolerable from a developmental standpoint.
  6. The Wanderer

    The Wanderer New Member

    Sep 3, 1999
    I'm gonna play devil's advocate here. If a player asked a Euro team to keep the trial a secret, would they? And if they did then how in the hell would the NCAA know about it?

    If all of these foreign players come over to the NCAA and have four years of eligibility, then why couldn't an American national go to Europe and receive 'professional training' and not lose eligibility? If I were a player and I wanted to do this and I had the resources available, I'd file a lawsuit against the NCAA for their double standard.

    Back on topic:

    Maybe this kid could talk to other players who turned pro/skipped college/left school early? I'd bet that would be difficult unless his club coach or a USSF coach he knew had those contacts.

    What also must be considered is the current state of the financial situations of the big European leagues. Italian teams obviously have less money, but I'm not so sure about the Spanish teams. The EPL and Bundesliga look better financially and even then some teams are looking to cut wage bills.

    Another factor to consider is foreigner status---unless the kid has either parents or grandparents from the UK or Ireland then this kid can basically forget about the EPL,First Division etc. for the time being.

    What kind of skill does he have? Is he the athletic type player with lots of speed or is he average in that department with more skill? Or does he have both? Generally the latin leagues(Portugal, Spain, Italy) want players who are technically(ball skill) proficient. That means having a consistent first touch, turning, holding and passing ability. German teams will take a player based more on his athletic ability because they believe that the technical aspects will improve over time(which is true to a certain extent). The players are big, but they are not always that fast or athletic so that's another thing to consider.

    I have no idea really about the average wages for youth players. Obviously, if the kid hooks up with a first division team from Germany,Italy,Spain then the money will probably be around 3-4 times better than what MLS P40 will offer. Keep in mind that P40 will reimburse for tuition also. I'm not so sure about Holland's wage rates for the mid to lower table teams. Ajax, PSV, Feyenoord and perhaps one or two more would probably have very good wages for their youth players. Portugal's and France's top tier teams probably offer pretty decent wages to their youth prospects also. Try and find out what Onyewu got at now relegated Metz.

    The kid also needs to think about NCAA Division II's rules--I'm pretty sure that a player only loses one year of eligibility per one year of professional service. So this could be an option also if the kid is chomping at the bit to have his go in Europe. He could go ahead and let the teams pay for his trials this year and then if he didn't get picked up he could look for a DII team next year.

    Another option: Ask his parents to pay for a European trip. If the kid got a DI scholarship then he's saving them a lot of money. Maybe they'll put up the $1500-$2K for him to fly to Europe and then go around Europe on the train so that he can trial with lots of teams. But if he doesn't have his passport now then it's going to take him like 2-3 weeks to get it. And there's no guarantee that his parents have that kind of jack or are willing to do that. But really the time to trial in Europe is ripe: the seasons haven't started yet and there is a lot of experimenting going on with friendlies, etc.

    What would this kid rather be doing instead of soccer? If the answer is nothing then perhaps he's got the required love of the game to make it work even if his playing career isn't great. On Eric Quill's biography he said that he'd like to coach someday. He left Clemson after one year and reportedly his parents would not let him go to Ajax during high school.

    As mentioned, if he's looking domestically, then he should probably just go to college--the A-league and MLS seasons will be over in September/October or around that time. If he does decide to go to college, I'd probaby suggest taking basic courses that'll easily transfer. He might also want to take the minimum number of hours(classes) needed in order to concentrate on his game.

    The last thing off the top of my head---if he goes to Europe he's going to have to buckle down and learn to become proficient in another language. That really helps ease lots of players' transition into a foreign league and a new culture. That way he can make friends and function independently. The Euro option definitely isn't for people who aren't very adaptable.
  7. The Wanderer

    The Wanderer New Member

    Sep 3, 1999
    If his parents contacted an agent in Europe that arranged trials, how would the NCAA know about that? I really don't see how they could find out that kind of information without getting an FBI-authorized wire tap:) True, they could investigate with a club, but do foreign clubs have any kind of relationship that they are trying to maintain with the NCAA? I have no idea, but if they don't then I'd be inclined to tell them to go pi$$ up a rope if they were wanting information.
  8. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    No doubt a player COULD get away with something like that, but it's risking quite a bit, wouldn't you say?
  9. The Wanderer

    The Wanderer New Member

    Sep 3, 1999
    I'm not really sure what the procedures are for the NCAA in this situation, so I don't know about the risk involved. Munich just showed up to one of Ned Grabavoy's practices and said that they were interested in him?? How did Ned Grabavoy find out that Munich was interested in him without breaking NCAA rules is the better question I suppose.
  10. appoo

    appoo Member+

    Jul 30, 2001
    NCAA = freakin paranoid extreme-rightwingers.

    I never understood their problems. People look at College Basketball and wonder why all these kids leave college so early. Well part of that answer is that they were forced out...maybe by only driving in a friend's car. Or borrowing money from Aunt May. I never understood this. Why use the gestappo tactics?
  11. turnaround

    turnaround New Member

    Jul 10, 2001
    Guys, thanks for the great info/advice. The kid is a friend of the family, and in response to The Wanderer's post, he's about 5-9, 5-10, 160, mostly a central MF player with great technical skill and vision. Good quickness, average speed, not great in the air but a smart player who plays quickly and knows how to get in open spaces to receive the ball and then give it. Not a flashy player, but a kid who's solid on both sides of the ball. Good powerful shot, but real strength is as a distributor.

    He's leaving next week for school, so it's probably too late for him to get a trial this Fall. Not sure about his parent's financial status, but they told me he's getting a partial scholarship to school. I'm sure they could cough up 2K to send him to Europe.
    He knows enough French to get by...but that's about it as far as foreign language.

    Would it make sense to try and get a trial in between semesters, or sometime in the spring?

    Also, the European team that he impressed was Inter Milan's youth team. Would it be a good idea for his parent's to try and contact them? This is a kid with lots of potential, and he has a real passion for the game. He plays his best soccer against the top teams such as Inter and Ajax.
  12. Bethlehem

    Bethlehem New Member

    May 18, 2002

    Any time he can participate in a trial it is worthwhile. He just needs to be realistic about his chances and go to a team that already knows him to maximize his financial investment.
  13. GoDC

    GoDC Member

    Nov 23, 1999
    Hamilton, VA
    Go Pro. Screw college.
  14. GersMan

    GersMan Member

    May 11, 2000
    Actually they are more left-wing Stalinist types, to be precise :)
  15. The Wanderer

    The Wanderer New Member

    Sep 3, 1999
    Attacking/creative mid is the hardest position to play in soccer IMHO. If doesn't quite have the vision to play there and his technical skills are good then he would more than likely be moved to dmid or left or right back. How does he tackle? It appears that he has pretty good size.

    [/QUOTE]He's leaving next week for school, so it's probably too late for him to get a trial this Fall. Not sure about his parent's financial status, but they told me he's getting a partial scholarship to school. I'm sure they could cough up 2K to send him to Europe.He knows enough French to get by...but that's about it as far as foreign language.[/QUOTE]

    He should just go to college and play out the season there. You might want to let him know about taking the minimum number of classes thing that he can get by with. Have him try and work on weaknesses(usually ball skills/passing) in his extra time, but obviously do not overdo it(increase repetitions by about 20%/wk). He definitely does not want to get injured at this point so make sure that he's warming up properly. It wouldn't be such a bad idea to take either more French(if he has hopes of getting on there) or to take Italian. Don't underestimate the language aspects at all.

    [/QUOTE]Would it make sense to try and get a trial in between semesters, or sometime in the spring?[/QUOTE]

    Casey, Cherundolo and Twellman all got contracts between semesters as far as I know. So yes, trials would be a good thing between semesters IMHO. However I think it'll be too late for him to be added to the active 1st team roster. He should be able to play with the reserves though.

    [/QUOTE]Also, the European team that he impressed was Inter Milan's youth team. Would it be a good idea for his parent's to try and contact them? This is a kid with lots of potential, and he has a real passion for the game. He plays his best soccer against the top teams such as Inter and Ajax. [/QUOTE]

    I have no idea about his parent's contacting them. Maybe they could try and get Grabavoy's parents' phone number and call them and see how Ned got his trial at Bayern Munich.

    If indeed he gets on at somewhere like Inter he has to realize that he's going to have to go balls to the wall to try and make it from their reserve team to their first team. Balls to the effin' wall because Inter is a buying team. They don't graduate many players at all from their youth set up to the first team. IMHO he'd be better off trying to get on with a French, Dutch or Portuguese team--if he was part of the U18 squad that went there(didn't they go to France?) then some of those teams might remember him etc. Heed the JOB lesson. He went to a smaller league and broke through and now he can go and play in any league in Western Europe.

    Trying to get the most money should be tempered by considering the short and long term player development opportunities. Donovan got great money from Leverkusen but it didn't exactly do wonders for his short term development either. In hindsight it might have been better for him to sign for less money with a squad like Feyenoord who have a pretty good track record of youth development(most Dutch teams do).

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