When Andy Rose played his first MLS match on May 5 against the Philadelphia Union, it was a whirlwind around him on the pitch at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders were amidst their best start in club history and the rookie Rose was filling in for steady veteran Brad Evans in the middle of the midfield for Seattle.
He proved able in a 1-0 win over the Union, but not without some harrowing moments. On one end of the field, a clumsy tackle nearly earned him a red card – he was just shown yellow on the play, but was later fined by the league Disciplinary Committee. On the other end, one of his two shots found the woodwork.
“That was a bit of a rollercoaster, but it taught me to be a little calmer at this level,” Rose said.
By his third game, he felt comfortable and better understood how to play his role with the team, but that start will always stand out to him. Even still, it is just one small part of the growing process over the last year for the 22-year-old Englishman.
A year ago, he was completely unsure what his future held as he finished his college career after four splendid seasons at UCLA. In that next month, he would finish his Sociology degree and travel home to England for holidays with his family, all while working in training for the MLS Player Combine and MLS SuperDraft.
Right now, college players around the country are going through that same stress as the 2013 MLS SuperDraft approaches and Rose knows just how they feel and he was able to navigate those difficult waters in turning in a standout first season in MLS with the Sounders FC.
“It’s a pretty stressful time because you have no idea what your future’s going to be,” Rose said.
After finishing the 2011 season at UCLA with a shootout loss to North Carolina in the semifinals of the NCAA championship tournament, it quickly sunk in that his college career was over. After 81 career matches that netted him five goals and 11 assists, Bruins soccer had become a part of Rose’s makeup.
But he had to quickly turn his focus to the Combine.
“It was a pretty emotional time. I had such an amazing time at UCLA. It was a horrible feeling because it felt like we had a team that could win a National Championship,” Rose said. “I had to pick myself up and move on pretty quickly.”
Having completed his last final as an undergrad while on the road with UCLA, that was an easier task than it could be for some who are also vying for their college diploma.
Rose went to England to visit family for the holidays, then returned ready for the Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, building up to the SuperDraft.
After two rounds in Kansas City, Rose’s name was not called, so he was left to wait even longer to learn his pro soccer fate. That’s when the Sounders saw an opportunity and traded Leone Cruz – a second-round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft – for the rights to Rose after Real Salt Lake picked him sixth in the Supplemental Draft.
He then flew to Seattle for the start of training camp and followed the team to Arizona, then Florida, never knowing if his next meeting with the coaching staff would be his last.
In the end, he impressed enough in training camp to figure prominently into the Sounders plans for the 2012 season.
“Making the team was amazing. That was a great moment for me. Then it all took off,” he said. “I found a lot of confidence early on in training and felt like I could fit in with these guys. A lot of the older guys talked to me a lot and took care of me. As soon as I started playing, I started to feel like more of a part of the team. When the coaching staff is that invested in you, you just want to give everything you can to the organization.”
Rose finished the MLS season with 11 starts in his 23 appearances, scoring one goal and assisting on another. Add to that two goals and an assist while starting all five matches on the Sounders FC’s run to a fourth consecutive US Open Cup final and one goal and three assists in three starts in the CONCACAF Champions League and Rose was among the more successful rookies in the 2012 season.
Now, he’s building up to his second season in the league, but sympathizes with the young men who will have their attention shift towards Indianapolis, Indiana, for the 2013 MLS SuperDraft on January 17.
“My thought process the whole season was that anytime I got an opportunity to take it and do the best I can to help the team win. Overall, I look at the first season as a success, but now it’s a building block as I try to make another leap,” he said.
The Sounders pick 16th in the first round of the SuperDraft and also hold the 35th overall pick in the second round. The Supplemental Draft will be held on a conference call on January 22. In the four-round Supplemental Draft, the Sounders hold picks 5, 16, 35, 54 and 73.