Eric Stevenson splits two Timbers for the Sounders U-23 in 2013 (SoundersPhotos.com)
TACOMA, Wash. – 2013 Sounders U-23 midfielder and University of Akron star, Eric Stevenson, was signed by the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer today. Stevenson was drafted with the 34th overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft in January. After a successful preseason with the club, he was officially signed for his first professional contract.
Eric Stevenson, 23, said, “It's what I've worked for my whole life, it's been my goal since I was 4 years old, so it means everything to me.”
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During the 2013 season at the University of Akron, he played in 22 games, making 21 starts. He finished the season with five goals and five assists and was an All-Great Lakes Region Third-Team honoree and also earned All-MAC First Team honors. The Columbus, Ohio, native featured in three preseason matches for the Red Bulls.
“He obviously shows that he's learned the game, whether that be before he got to college or even at a good program like Akron,” said New York Red Bulls Head Coach, Mike Petke. “To me, he's a bit ahead of a lot of players coming out of college, where he sees the game and sees the things that take certain players a while to see. He's got a great first touch and tactically wise, he's in tune with us and we're very excited for the future with him.”
Last summer the Columbus, Ohio native played six matches for the Sounders U-23, scoring one goal. With a few key injuries last season, the U-23s were forced to adapt their style of play. Stevenson was able to adapt to the new situation and grow his skill set.
“Akron was all possession and Sounders was more of an English style of play,” Stevenson said. “The MLS so far for me has been a mix of the two styles sometimes you play and sometimes you just kick.”
With players coming from around the nation, the Sounders U-23 offered Stevenson a glimpse into his future.
Stevenson described his experience with the Sounders U-23, “It eased my transition into the pros. At Akron we trained like pros and simulated a pro life, but with the Sounders U-23 I got to live like a pro and get some trainings with the first team. I got to see what the quality and sessions were like, and most importantly I had fun.”
Stevenson is now the 15th Sounders U-23 alumnus to earn a professional contract in just the last two seasons. To see the rest of the list, see www.SoundersU23.com/roster/Alumni/index_E.html.
Sounders U-23 Season Ticket Flex Packs for the 2014 season are now on sale at SoundersU23.com. Season Ticket Flex Packs start at $60.