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On The Field - by Jordan Stone

As an added service for its fans, U.S. Soccer produces “On the Field” articles on from National Team coaches or players.  With the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament five days away from kicking off , U.S. midfielder Jordan Stone talks about his decision to sign a professional contract with MLS, his first year in the league, his experience in the A-League, his future and more.

U.S. Under-20 Qualifying
by Jordan Stone

I signed with Major League Soccer in January of this year, but I had really been thinking about it the year before.  I had spoken with John Ellinger, and I made my decision that if the opportunity to play professional soccer came up then I would do that instead of going to college.  So I knew I was going to do that when the opportunity rolled around.  I wasn’t too high on school, and I want to make the 2004 Olympic team and going pro early would help because I will be a little young in 2004.

It was very cool to end up in Dallas playing for the Burn.  The way the draft came up I kind of knew I would end up there.  I had been training with them for about a year, and it really didn’t surprise me when I ended up in Dallas.  It’s been nice the way it worked out because I felt like I developed a lot this year; I was able to live at home and it made the transition a lot easier.

We started the season off great.  We were flirting with first place early; there were a few games where we would have been in first place if we won, and we never could do it.  We were playing real well, we were setting Burn records, and then we just ended up not being able to do it against Colorado in the playoffs.  I really never thought we would actually lose that game.  It was a definite shock that we did.  Overall it was a pretty good season, but it was just disappointing the way it ended.

In the preseason I talked with the coaching staff, and I pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to play very much.  They talked about me getting a lot of games in the A-League.  I went the first few months of the season without playing, except for some games against college teams that we would play on Mondays.  Then they sent me to Atlanta to play with the A-League’s Silverbacks for a time in June and it really went well.  I played well and I got along with the guys, so I asked them to keep sending me out.  I ended up going back and playing six more games with them, and that was really good because at that point in the season the Burn weren’t playing any games on the side for the reserves.

I was a little frustrated by not playing with the Burn, but I can’t complain at all.  I came in and started out the season and told people that I would not be surprised if I did not play at all.  Then Chad (Deering) had a fabulous season and there were no injuries, so there was really no reason to put me in aside from the development standpoint - so I wasn’t really that upset with my lack of playing time.

I don’t know how it will all work out next season with who we have and all, but I definitely think we can have a repeat of this year to start the season.  Then hopefully we can finish better and get closer to the final because I think we have the guys on the team to do it.  Next year on my end I think early on it might still be a little bit about my development, but hopefully by the end of the season they won’t blink an eye putting me in the starting lineup if they have to because of injury or something of that sort.

Even though I didn’t play much I don’t ever regret my decision to sign with MLS.  I think going pro was much better than going to school for me.  But I am taking correspondence courses toward a college degree, because MLS is paying for my schooling and I felt like I should take advantage of that and do as much as I could.  I haven’t done as much as I wanted so far, but I am definitely working, chipping away and will get that college degree one day.