Recent Tacoma Defiance signing Paul Rothrock has started the season in red-hot form, putting up eye-catching numbers in the attack.
“Paul Rothrock is an outstanding server of the ball,” said Head Coach Wade Webber. “We've scored six goals, he's assisted four of them, so he really has been involved in every goal we've scored."
Sitting at the No.1 spot in MLS NEXT Pro for assists, Rothrock’s ability to make a difference on the pitch is apparent — and Webber is confident the midfielder can maintain that consistency for the remainder of the season as well.
“When he trains he trains as hard as he can, his attitude is always wonderful….His ability to reproduce big outputs is First team level and that as a starting point, raises his floor,” said Webber.
While Rothrock’s recent performances have put him in the forefront of the Defiance squad, his time at the Sounders organization came long before his contract signing in January.
The Seattle native was a part of the nationally ranked U-19 Sounders Academy team in 2017, alongside former teammate and current First Team player, Jackson Ragen. That same year, Rothrock appeared and scored a goal in his lone match with the S2 (now Defiance).
Rothrock went on to play college soccer at Notre Dame, but ended up transferring to Georgetown University, where he led his team to their first NCAA championship title in 2019. His first foray into professional soccer came when he was drafted 64th overall to Toronto FC in 2021. Rothrock recorded 12 goals for the club’s second team over the course of two seasons, before making the decision to come back home to Seattle.
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“A big reason why I chose to come back is because I had so much joy playing for this club,” said Rothrock. “It's been a blast so far, and I feel comfortable, which I think pays dividends over a year when you're traveling a lot and you're going through the ups and downs of a regular athlete.”
Ragen also played a role in his decision to return to the Sounders organization. The two players grew up playing together and have been best friends since they were eight years old. Rothrock said it's been “both [of their] dreams to eventually be playing on the same field together [again].”
“[Jackson] talked a lot about the culture at the club and he felt like there was opportunity for me here too,” he added. “We had a number of conversations, so I'm grateful for him.”
Rothrock hopes his efforts with the MLS NEXT Pro team will allow him to one day compete with the First Team, but for now, his main focus is continuing to improve every time he steps onto the pitch.
“My goal is to continue to put in good performances and have them build on each other,” said Rothrock. “I think [there’s] like 150 training sessions and only 28 games, and so the training is far more important, which has been a good message for me to focus on the little things day in and day out and hopefully that leads to something over the long term…But some of that is out of my control, so I'm just trying to continue to get better every day.”