Sloan aims to join MLS' Crew
Having graduated a semester early from High Point University last month, Shawn Sloan put two possible career paths on his radar.
One is medical school. The other is playing professional soccer after leaving HPU as one of its best players ever, finishing second on the school’s all-time points and assists lists and third in goals scored.
Right now, filling out medical school applications will have to wait. Sloan’s dream of playing professional soccer remains alive after being chosen by the Columbus Crew in the fourth and final round of the Major League Soccer draft last week.
“I just watched it at home, hoping my name would be called,” Sloan said. “And then I saw my name as the 66th pick. I was definitely on pins and needles because I was afraid it wouldn’t be called.”
As a result of that call, Sloan hopped aboard a plane the middle of last week and flew to Bradenton, Fla., to take part in the Crew’s version of baseball’s spring training without any guarantees of making the team and without any indication how long he might stick around during the preseason workouts.
The training is divided into two sessions. The first one finishes up Friday after scrimmages against three teams. The Crew team goes to Columbus then returns to Florida for 18 days that end on Feb. 24. The season opens March 2.
“This past year, I saw my name on some draft lists,” Sloan said by telephone last Friday. “But, I really didn’t know if I would be drafted. I hadn’t spoken to any teams. I just hoped I would wind up with a team. I’ve been given this chance and it is a dream come true. Whatever happens, happens. I’ve got no pretensions. But I had to give this a shot.”
As of Friday, Sloan had not had conversations with the team’s coaches about his chances of making the team. He said that he is among 6 or 7 new players hoping to make the team. For all he knows, his dream could come to an end when practice ends this week.
“I haven’t talked to the coaches,” Sloan said. “I have a silent, unspoken communication with them. I know that I have to impress them. I have to do things so they will keep their eyes on me.”
Sloan said it didn’t take long to learn new things.
“Anytime you go up a level, you find the speed of play is faster,” he said. “I’ve learned some little things such as how to make touches in the right direction so you are positioned better to make a pass. And, everyone talks to each other and keeps communication. It’s like you’ve known everyone 10 years.”
He hopes that he will be able to talk to them for more than a month or so.
“At this level, everyone is a tough competitor,” Sloan said. “I have to make a name for myself. My goal is to play professionally. If it doesn’t work out with this team, maybe another one will pick me up.”