FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – In the grand scheme, New England Revolution midfielder Stephen McCarthy will look back upon the 2011 MLS SuperDraft as one of the most memorable days of his life.
But in truth, McCarthy didn’t have much fun on draft day. At least not until his name was called over the Baltimore Convention Center sound system as the 24th overall selection.
“The draft was a horrible experience for me,” McCarthy said with a chuckle as he recalled the event one year later. “Not because of where I [was drafted]; just because of the waiting. The waiting is awful.
“If you’re not there, you don’t see how much time you’re actually waiting,” he continued. “I waited until what, the [24th pick]? It’s so nerve wracking, because you see your friends [get drafted], you see teams go by, you see people get picked and you’re just so nerve-wracked. Where am I going to end up?”
Even A.J. Soares, with his laid-back California personality and the near-assurance that he’d be taken in the top half of the first round, felt his heart beating a little faster as the SuperDraft got underway.
“Once the time came and the draft was coming around, I was a little bit nervous to be honest,” admitted Soares, who was ultimately drafted by New England with the sixth overall pick. “I kind of just wanted it to be over, so it felt like forever until the number six pick. But I was glad to be taken, especially by the Revolution.”
The hours – or more likely, days and weeks – of anticipation and anxiety disappeared in an instant as both players realized their childhood dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. It’s that feeling which players are eager to experience this week when the 2012 MLS SuperDraft takes place on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Kansas City Convention Center.
“I was just thrilled and relieved it was over,” said Soares. “Immediately when I was picked I began thinking, ‘I’m a Rev now.’ I just started getting ready to move to Boston.”
McCarthy took a bit more time to let the emotions of the moment sink in.
“I remember the feeling of getting picked,” he said. “That was amazing; probably the best feeling ever.”
Upon hearing their names called, there was one more obstacle for the players to overcome before joining their friends and family for relaxation and celebration. Any draftees who are present at the SuperDraft are immediately thrust in front of cameras, bright lights and reporters eager to hear their thoughts on their new destination, which they’ve learned just moments prior.
While Soares took the experience in stride – “It’s an honor (to be giving interviews), so I wasn’t stressed too much about it,” he said – McCarthy admits he wasn’t quite prepared for the attention.
“It’s overwhelming,” McCarthy said with a laugh. “No one teaches you how to speak. They should give some lessons or something because I probably said some dumb stuff and I’m sure people have said dumb stuff before. You’re so overwhelmed, how can they pull you right there and talk to you about your feelings? It’s crazy.”
Once the whirlwind ends, that’s when reality finally takes hold.
I’m a professional soccer player.
“I was already thinking about my training schedule, getting fit for preseason, where I was going to live in Boston,” said Soares. “I was already in the mode of, ‘I’m moving to Boston soon.’ So I was just thrilled, really, to know where I was going, to have been wanted by a club and I was just excited.”