Brandt selected in MLS draft
USD Alumnus Connor Brandt drafted 23rd by NYC FC
The West Coast Conference Player of the Year and University of San Diego alumnus Connor Brandt had always dreamed of playing soccer professionally. After years of dedication and hard work, Brandt was invited to the MLS SuperDraft and selected with the 23rd overall pick by New York City FC. The senior left mid-fielder for USD began playing soccer when he was just five years old.
He never missed a season and never stopped playing, whether it was recreational soccer or club soccer. Since Brandt was young, he has loved the competitive nature of the game.
“I’ve always been a really competitive person,” Brandt said. “It’s also fun to get out on the field every day and play with your buddies.”
Brandt is so thankful to have had the chance to play for USD. After coming to San Diego his sophomore year, he helped the Toreros make it to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. He recalls how they had started off the season slow (2-6) and bounced back to win 10 games in a row.
This allowed them to win the conference and entrance into the tournament. One of the two biggest moments of his career was being awarded National Player of the Week. When he got to his a senior year, he did everything in his power to make sure his team got into the playoffs. And they did. This lead to the other biggest moment for Brandt, winning 2014 Conference Player of the Year. He was named WCC Player of the Week twice his senior year and was also named to the NSCAA Far West All-Region First Team.
Brandt’s dream of playing professionally did not come without a strong work ethic and some difficulties. Once he got to college and realized he could potentially make a living out of the sport, he began to work harder than ever. He said that eventually the sport does take a toll on your body. “You have to be physically and mentally tough every day to work your hardest in training, which can be hard to do sometimes,” Brandt said. “But with that said, I wouldn’t want to choose any other profession.”
With all the time and effort, he has had continuous support from his family no matter what.
“My parents have been there every step of the way, encouraging me even when I wasn’t playing the best I could,” Brandt said. “My dad would always say, ‘Keep your head down, work hard, and good things will come.”
The MLS Player Combine is a week of prospective players demonstrating their skills in front of all professional teams, including the coaching staff and the general manager of each FC team. Each player meets with the teams throughout the week and then anxiously waits to hear their name called during the draft at the end of the week.
“When you go into college, watch the draft, and see players or friends that you know and played against be selected, you start to hope that one day your name gets called,” Brandt said.
While at first he did not expect to be selected by New York, he could not be more excited as his dream became a reality. The first thought that went through his head when he heard his name was how thankful he was for the opportunity.
Teammate Torrey De Armas spoke for the team when he said that they knew Brandt would do something with soccer in his life. “Connor was always working hard and put everything into every training session,” DeArmas said. “He had a certain passion for the game that not a lot of other players have.”
Patrick Zimmer, junior defender for the Toreros, agreed with De Armas.
“Connor being drafted gives everyone extra motivation to work hard in practice, to perform well and try to improve every day a little bit more,” Zimmer said. “Having played with someone who plays in the MLS now is an amazing experience and shows everyone that nothing is impossible.”
He also said Brandt getting drafted is great for those still playing for USD.
“It shows us there could be chances for other players on our team as well.”
New York City FC is one of the MLS’s two newest franchises. They will play at Yankee Stadium and have already signed David Villa of Spain and Frank Lampard of England as two of their designated players.
Brandt offers some advice for anyone who shares his dream.
“The biggest thing is to never stop believing – no matter how cliché that is,” Brandt said. “I’ll be the biggest advocate of that saying. At the end of the day, I’ll see players on TV and get intimidated a little, but you just have to believe and work, work, work. Putting in extra work, even when no one is watching, is huge. You can’t expect to make it by doing regular training and weights with the coaches. Go by yourself and get after that dream.”