It’s been a fantastic year for Seattle Sounders Academy alum Trey Muse.
In addition to making the USSDA West Region Best XI, Muse led the Sounders U-18s to a best-ever third-place finish in the playoffs, participated in preseason with the First Team, trained regularly with S2 and cemented his spot as a starter for the U.S. U-18 men’s national team.
But the last few months have seen the Academy product elevate his game at an even faster clip. The young goalkeeper won the starting job in net for the Indiana Hoosiers in preseason, and he hasn’t looked back. Despite being a rookie at the collegiate level, Muse led the nation in every critical goalkeeping metric, including goals against (six), goals against average (0.24), save percentage (90.6%) and shutouts (17).
Adjusting to college can be difficult for most 18-year-olds. But for Muse, who left his home in Kentucky at the age of 16 to join Sounders Academy, his experience in Seattle’s youth system prepared him for what can be a difficult transition.
“Moving away from home my junior year of high school kind of made me grow up a little bit,” said Muse. “In a sense, I was kind of living a college life. I was living away from home, going to school and playing soccer. I was exposed to this life a little earlier than most, so just being there helped me understand the growing pains of being away from home and being able to cope with that.”
College soccer is often criticized from a player development perspective. But for young goalkeepers like Muse, who tend to peak later in their playing career, playing a prominent role for one of the best programs in the nation has taken his game to new level.
“I think college soccer has prepared me for an ease into the professional levels with the increased physicality and playing with older guys,” said Muse. “My shot-stopping has improved just by being here, training and playing in big games. I feel like I'm making saves that I wasn't before.”
To say that Muse has come up with some clutch saves this season is a massive understatement. In fact, the main reason that Indiana advanced to the College Cup — NCAA soccer’s equivalent of basketball’s Final Four — was his herculean performance in a PK shootout, where he saved three of five attempts against Michigan State in the Elite Eight.
It was the kind of star-turn display that most young goalkeepers grow up dreaming about. But after he was pulled for Indiana’s PK shootout loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, Muse just wanted to reward the faith placed in him by his teammates and coaches.
“The coaches told me [before the shootout] they were going to keep me in, so I took my opportunity and just went after it,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to make those saves, and I'm just glad the coaches had the trust to keep me in there.”
The Hoosiers’ ambition since August has been to collect a ninth national championship, a lofty goal that can only be set by a program with a rich history of winning. For a freshman goalkeeper in a PK shootout with the hopes of a storied program resting on his shoulders, it was an immense amount of pressure.
But according to Muse, his time spent with the Sounders youth system and U.S. youth national teams left him feeling prepared. He’d been in these kinds of high-pressure circumstances before.
“I think the culture that was built in Seattle was very good, it pushed me and helped me develop each day,” said Muse. “Just being in that environment with the Sounders and the national team, it made the pressure ease a little bit [in the shootout] because I had already been through similar situations. Being in such a competitive environment just propelled my growth.”
Between the individual accolades and team accomplishments, Muse’s freshman season has already exceeded his wildest expectations. But with just one more win standing between the Hoosiers and a berth in the national championship game, he’s not quite satisfied.
“We've definitely had a very good year, but we're not settling for what we've done so far,” said Muse. “We're still chasing a national championship, that's been our goal all along.”