Journey from youth soccer to pro
Behind every professional soccer player, there are youth soccer programs that believed in them and pushed them to get to where they are today. One example is 2012 MLS SuperDraft pick Casey Townsend.
At the age of four, Townsend’s parents signed him up for soccer in their local Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer in his native Michigan. At 13, he moved on to playing in Lower Michigan before heading to the University of Maryland and playing three years there, earning honors such as being named to the 2011 NSCAA All-American First Team and All-Atlantic Coast Conference First Team in both 2010 and 2011. Since being drafted, Townsend has played in 17 games, making 10 starts.
“It’s been good,” Townsend said about his first year in MLS. “The transition was tough for a while, the practices every day, the physicality and the speed of the game, but I gradually caught on. I’ve been getting some minutes, started in a couple of games, so it’s been successful. It’s been a good year.”
And indeed it has. As Chivas prepares to face Real Salt Lake (RSL) this Saturday at The Home Depot Center, most might remember that Townsend scored his first MLS goal against RSL, which Chivas has a 1-1-0 record with this season. With Townsend’s goal, the Goats were able to defeat then-first place RSL and take their first three points of the season.
“Obviously that was my first goal, but Salt Lake isn’t going to be special. I will probably remember that game forever because it was a lot of fun. But in terms of remembering Salt Lake, I rather just beat them,” Townsend said.
This Saturday will also mark Youth Soccer Night, and many AYSO and local soccer clubs will be in attendance. For those young soccer players dreaming of making it to the big leagues, Townsend has a special message for them:
“Always believe in yourself. There’s always going to be doubters that will tell you you can’t do something but you have to have enough belief in yourself and enough confidence to know that you can make it. Just keep working hard and keep training hard and it will pay off in the end.”