They come from divergent backgrounds, but the Columbus Crew’s three selections in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft share a common trait in the sacrifices made to attain their goals.
The trio shared their anecdotes with MLSsoccer.com.
ETHAN FINLAY, forward, 10th overall pick from Creighton:
His father was a Canadian hockey player and the Minnesota-born Finlay (pictured above) first donned skates when he was three. But when the family moved to ice-barren North Carolina, he transferred his abilities to grass.
“When I moved back to Wisconsin when I was 13 years old, I made a real commitment to soccer and said I wanted to be a pro,” he said. “My parents understood that and helped me in every way they could, driving me two, three hours to practice in Milwaukee.
“After my sophomore year [at Creighton], I said, ‘You know what? I have the ability mentally and physically to be a pro and play Major League Soccer.’”
He had 43 career goals for Creighton and was finalist in 2011 for the MAC Hermann Trophy as the top collegian before the Crew drafted him.
“It’s a testament to a lot of hard work I’ve put in as well as my family, my teammates and coaches,” he said.
AUBREY PERRY, right back, 26th overall pick from South Florida:
The Ocoee, Fla., native couldn’t have planned it any better.
Two years ago, he gave up the comforts of home to spend the summer with the Crew Juniors U-20 team.
“I trained with the first team a few times,” he said. “I met some of the guys. I spent a lot of time around the organization. I really enjoyed myself. At the time, Bernardo [Anor] was also up there.”
Funny how things work out. Anor, a teammate at USF, was drafted by the Crew last year and is back for a second season.
Also, Perry’s younger brother, Kendrick, is a sophomore on the Youngstown (Ohio) State basketball team and is their leading scorer.
“Me and [Kendrick] are really close,” Perry said. “A lot of dots seemed to be connected for me to be in Ohio.”
There’s more. One of his coaches at the US national team U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla., was former Crew midfielder Brian Maisonneuve.
KEVAN (pronounced KEY-vonn) GEORGE, midfielder/defender, 29th overall pick from Central Florida:
His family made a bold decision early in his life.
“I was born in Trinidad and moved to America in 2002,” George said. “My parents moved first, then they moved my brother and I three years afterward.
“They didn’t have a job,” he added. “They just moved out hoping to help my brother and I advance our academic careers and me my professional dream.
“It was very tough in the beginning, as you could expect, because we had nothing. That alone motivated me. All throughout my life, college, the Combine, I just had a one-track mind what I was going to do for my family.”
The realization hit him when he heard his name called by the Crew.
“My knees got weak and I immediately started thanking God,” he said. “I was thinking of my family and what they had done for me.”