From D-III to MLS, Horth takes the road less traveled
CASA GRANDE, Ariz. – Matt Horth has enjoyed a pretty remarkable start to 2013.
Engaged to his fiancée, Jessica, just about one month ago, Horth confirmed another bit of life-changing news on Friday afternoon when it was announced that the 23-year-old forward had signed his first MLS contract with the New England Revolution.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a ride,” a clearly appreciative Horth said, “but it’s been great.”
In some ways, the ride is just beginning for Horth, who played his collegiate soccer locally at Division III Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. For a player with professional aspirations, passing up Division I opportunities to play at the Division III level was a risky proposition. But Horth was confident his decision would pay dividends based on the tutelage he knew he’d receive from then-Gordon head coach Jake DeClute.
Horth’s faith in DeClute was rewarded in 2011 when the coach’s connections earned him a spot in the inaugural NASL Combine. A strong performance at that event attracted the attention of the Atlanta Silverbacks, who signed Horth to his first professional contract.
Two successful years in Atlanta – where he scored 18 goals in 49 appearances – led to a training stint with the Revolution last fall. Horth impressed with his combination of holdup play and finishing ability, prompting the Revs to bring the towering 6-foot-3 striker on board for the 2013 season.
“He’s a good target player and someone who we want to continue to grow his game,” said head coach Jay Heaps. “He’s shown he’s scored at each level he’s been at and now we’re going to ask him to score at the highest level and be a player for us.”
Horth owes a debt of gratitude to DeClute, who now serves as an assistant coach and scouting coordinator with Vancouver Whitecaps FC. But Horth’s own perseverance has been the driving factor in his rise from NCAA Division III to NASL to MLS. A hardworking attitude and team-first mentality helped him reach this level, and it’s those same attributes which will serve him well as he takes the next step in his career.
“I think a lot of players come into a club and say, ‘Well, I’m a new guy, so I want to score this many goals or I want to get a starting spot by then.’ But I want to keep it simple. I don’t want to get caught up in that,” Horth said. “I just want to come in and work hard, work my butt off, give Jay a tough decision every week and then just be a good locker room guy; be a guy with a good attitude, willing to help a teammate out and just carry myself professionally. I think if I can do those two things, everything else will kind of fall into place.”