TUKWILA — Like nearly every teenage boy in England, Andy Rose wanted to be a professional soccer player, er, footballer.
But unlike many dreamers his age, Rose was wise enough to know his game, and his body, needed a bit more work.
“I wasn’t quite ready to be a professional at 18 in England. I was quite the skinny little kid and I had a lot to learn,” said the now 22-year-old midfielder, who is enjoying a breakout rookie season with the Seattle Sounders.
Rose, who describes his accent as “mutt,” was born in Australia but raised in England with six years in Chicago mixed in. He decided four years ago that he was better off going to college in America than chasing a professional career for which he knew he was not yet prepared.
It helped that his older sister, Georgia, was already in the U.S. playing tennis at Northwestern University and raved to her little brother about college life in the States. And once Rose visited the UCLA campus, the decision was easy.
“As soon as I heard of some interest in the States, I sent a couple of DVDs, and once I stepped foot on campus at UCLA, I knew it was a done deal for me — that’s where I wanted to be,” Rose said. “Four years in L.A., I couldn’t complain about that one bit. I had a great experience for me, and obviously it led me to this point.”
Where Rose’s journey led him is to a prominent role on one of Major League Soccer’s top teams. Rose wasn’t taken in the two-round MLS SuperDraft, something that surprised him and a lot of soccer experts, but he was one of the first players taken the following week in the league’s supplemental draft.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, the longtime coach at UCLA, admitted he was a bit mad at himself for not taking Rose sooner, but Seattle was able to make a trade with Real Salt Lake to land Rose.
Rose was hoping to be drafted sooner than he was, but a person who was smart enough to choose college over rushing into a pro career unprepared, he also knew that ultimately, landing in the right place was more important than draft status.
“Obviously, I landed in the best possible spot for me,” Rose said. “It doesn’t really matter how you get there as long as you do, and once you’re given that opportunity, you’ve got to take it, and that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment.
“Thinking back on it, (not being drafted doesn’t) bother me, but that day was a bit of a rough day. But sometimes you just have to pick yourself up and take the opportunity where it comes.”
And after biding his time early in the season, Rose has made the most of his opportunity in Seattle, carving out a role for himself in a deep and talented midfield. With Seattle playing a busy schedule last month that tested the team’s depth, Rose found himself in the starting lineup in four league games. He also has started both of Seattle’s U.S. Open Cup games, scoring in each of them to help Sounders FC advance to the quarterfinals.
“Not bad for a (supplemental) pick,” Schmid said. “I was surprised that Andy didn’t get picked in the (SuperDraft). I was even a little bit mad at myself for not picking him, but I always felt that he could play.
“He’s one of the guys where you throw him into the water and then he finds a way to swim. Then you throw into a little bit deeper end and he still finds a way to stay afloat and swim. Then you throw him in a little deeper and he still finds a way to stay afloat.
“He’s done very, very well and he’s got it. He’s an important piece to us and he’s come through with some goals here and there, but he’s really helped us in terms of just linking play together.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.