When you’re a soccer player, you expect blows. You expect to fall once or twice in a scramble for the ball. You expect to catch a jab from an opponent, an elbow or knee even, all part of the intense, physical game. What you don’t expect is for the blows to come from someone on your own team, who professes to be in your camp.
It was an offer former men’s soccer standout Andy Stadler couldn’t pass up. An agent had approached him, looking to represent Stadler, promising to help him sign with a European team. It potentially meant the beginning of a professional soccer career and the realization of his lifelong dream. So he followed his heart, leaving GW halfway through his senior year and putting his faith in the plans of an agent. But the promises of that agent never came to fruition, Stadler said, and he spent the past year waiting at home for a call that never came.
“It was winter break and my roommate knew a guy that was going to be an agent, who knew a whole bunch of people from England and Europe, so I got set up with my agent. He promised that I was going to be going to Europe and that he could set me up with [Major League Soccer] tryouts, but that never really panned out,” Stadler said. “I don’t think he ever did that much.”
Stadler had just three tryouts with professional teams, including D.C. United, none of which panned out in his favor. The disappointing tryouts were a crushing blow on top of one he had already been dealt: the beginning of his senior season at GW, in fall 2009, he was sidelined due to injury.
It was a complication Stadler believes kept him from being invited to the Adidas Major League Soccer Combine, a prestigious, invitation-only competition that often determines the future of MLS talent.
“It was probably one of the worst years of my life, to tell you the truth,” he added.
To understand his disappointment over not being invited to the combine, you only need to look at the record of Stadler’s performance with the Colonials. He’s the only GW player to ever be named to the NSCAA Middle Atlantic Region First-Team, and made an Atlantic 10 All-Conference Team every year he played at GW. He’s tied for eighth in GW history in single-season point leaders, after he tallied 31 points in 2008. Stadler’s also fifth overall in career points, with 83, and fourth in career goals, with 35, at GW. It’s a record of incredible success that he chalks up to the environment of the University’s soccer program.
“The coaches here, they let me be free in what I was doing on the field. They wouldn’t get technical,” Stadler said. “I felt like I could go wherever I wanted on the field. I didn’t have a set position, I was just roaming.”
Stadler’s back on campus now, but off the pitch, returning to the place he was so successful as a player after a year of soccer-related disappointment. Now, he wants to complete his final semester, earn his degree, and head back out to realize his dream of playing professionally.
“This is the plan, at least. I’m just going to save a couple more hundred dollars, just so I can get a ticket to go off to Europe, just go to different clubs and try out there,” Stadler said. “Soccer, it’s pretty much my whole life. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was little. I need to be playing soccer.”