Josh Smith was drafted 75th overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, a spot that made him a long shot to earn a roster spot, let alone start. Despite this, the rookie has already made two starts in four games. More impressive is the fact that he’s fit in just fine.
Smith made his professional debut on the road against the Portland Timbers. His assignment that night wasn’t an easy one as he was asked to neutralize Fernando Adi. One week later, Smith went toe-to-toe with Erick Torres, who had scored in four straight games.
In both situations, Smith looked unafraid, which can be credited to the reps he’s receiving on the training field.
“I think everything we do in practice prepares me,” Smith said. “I think my teammates are really good on the ball and what we do in practice, the speed of play helps me definitely in the game.”
Each week, Smith battles some of the most dangerous attackers in the league. Between Lee Nguyen’s craftiness, Juan Agudelo’s movement, and Kei Kamara’s natural goal-scoring ability, Smith is challenged every day. This has helped him build confidence ahead of games.
“[Kamara] a really hard forward to mark against in practice and coming in, I picked a lot playing against Kei,” Smith explained. “I picked lot playing against Lee and Juan. And I must say, our guys prepared me really well to go against those strikers.”
The work has paid off, as Smith limited Adi to just one shot on goal and helped the Revs keep a clean sheet against the Houston Dynamo.
Smith is happy with the Revolution’s defensive performances so far, especially since the club has collected four points with him in the lineup. Still, the defender can’t help but think about what it would feel like to score an MLS goal, which is something he almost accomplished on Saturday.
“Oh my god, I was coming into halftime and was like, ‘Man!’ I felt the ball coming, coming, but unfortunately I didn’t get one today,” Smith said. “But maybe next time if I get a chance to play.”