FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – He may have only made a brief cameo appearance as the New England Revolution chased what eventually became a 2-0 loss to D.C. United, but rookie Steve Neumann still managed to have a pretty memorable Saturday night at RFK Stadium.
That’s because Neumann, the fourth overall pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft, made his MLS debut when he entered the game in the 84th minute. His touches on the ball were limited, completing four of six attempted passes, but it was still a significant step forward for the versatile 22-year-old attacker.
“It was definitely special,” Neumann said. “It was a little bittersweet just because the result ended up the way it did … It’s definitely good to get the debut under my belt and then just keep building off that.”
Neumann received a warm round of applause upon his entrance, courtesy of the 20-plus friends and family members in attendance at RFK Stadium. The rookie recently graduated from nearby Georgetown University, making the Washington, D.C., area a sort of home-away-from-home.
It was the second time in a matter of months Neumann was able to share such a major milestone with loved ones. He had friends and family on hand in January when he was drafted at the Philadelphia Convention Center – just 40 miles from his hometown of New Hope, Pa. – while on Saturday night the stands included his father and plenty of friends from Georgetown.
“It was also College Night, so they got a discount with their student IDs,” Neumann said with a smile. “I definitely heard a big cheering section when I entered the game, which gave me a boost. It was a night I’ll never forget. (Now I need to) just keep building off of it.”
Neumann could well have a chance to build upon his debut performance in the near future should he continue to impress head coach Jay Heaps. An ankle injury slowed Neumann’s progress in preseason, but since returning to full form, he’s put himself firmly on Heaps’ radar.
“I think he’s trained extremely well,” said Heaps. “It’s taken him a couple weeks to get up to speed, but now he’s at full speed, and to me, he’s really pushing to get time.”
It’s likely Neumann will only push harder in the coming weeks; having received his first taste of the professional game – albeit briefly – he’s already hungry for more.
“I’ve been waiting for that debut for a few weeks,” Neumann said. “I’m definitely ready for it and definitely ready to keep playing.”