As announced prior to the start of the 2015 season, another Georgetown University product is now a part of the New England Revolution's midfield ranks. Tyler Rudy, who enjoyed an illustrious four-year collegiate career in our nation’s capital, is one of six new players on the Revs’ roster and is so far the only rookie who will take to the turf of Gillette Stadium in 2015.
Given the Revs’ recent penchant for successful first round draft picks (i.e. Kelyn Rowe and Andrew Farrell), one would logically expect Rudy to have taken that path to his first professional contract. Things weren’t that simple, though.
Rudy’s name was not called in this year’s SuperDraft and he wasn’t even invited to the MLS Combine, which is held every year in Florida after the college season ends. Instead, the former Second Team All-Big East selection relied on a preseason camp invitation from Jay Heaps, thus furthering along Rudy’ unconventional route to MLS.
"I took the longest route that’s for sure," Rudy said. "I wasn’t drafted or invited to the combine and I thank God for my support system because they kept encouraging me to work hard and praying I would get my shot. Coach Heaps and the Revolution took their chance on me and I’m so ecstatic that they did."
With a flyer taken on Rudy, an opportunity presented itself. The former Hoya had the chance to showcase his talents on the biggest stage of American soccer, all while fighting for a roster spot that was by no means guaranteed.
While Rudy’s determination to become a member of the Revolution drove him throughout preseason, learning from the Revs’ experienced midfield throughout February was an added bonus. As a 21-year-old aspiring rookie, having the opportunity to absorb advice from the likes of Andy Dorman and Diago Kobayashi while at the Desert Diamond Cup was beneficial on multiple levels.
"I just love learning from them and playing with them," Rudy said. "In the two, three weeks I’ve been with the Revolution I’ve learned so much from those guys. They all offer something different about the center-mid position and how to be a good professional. I’m really thankful that they’ve taken me under their wing, each in a different way, and shown me the ropes so far about what it’s like to play at the next level."
Given that Rudy did ultimately earn a spot on the Revs it is evident that veterans on the team played their part. However, he has also taken inspiration from a much younger player on the team: Scott Caldwell.
The former Akron midfielder and Rudy play a similar game, so studying Caldwell’s game throughout preseason greatly helped him progress. Facing the struggle of adjusting to the faster speed of play in MLS as opposed to college soccer, Rudy focused on emulating Caldwell’s ability to dictate the tempo.
"I had always been told that speed of play increases and if you're not thinking a step ahead you're going to get caught on the ball," Rudy said. "It’s something that I’ve learned over the last couple weeks from Scotty Caldwell. I’ve watched the way his head is on a swivel all the time and how he knows what is going to happen next."
In drawing from players who have been in the league for several years now, Rudy has grown even though he has barely been in the league. He hopes to continue to grow throughout the season, but faces the challenge of consistently applying his developed craft on the field.
Rudy started 71 games and appeared in 88 games while at Georgetown, but likely does not have that amount of playing time ahead of him with the Revs. He will have to bide his time as a rookie, continue to improve, and learn what it takes to become the best professional possible. With that in mind, Rudy has set his sights on making the game-day roster and seeing where that can take him.
"The first goal for me personally is to make the 18," he said. "That’s something that I really want to strive towards. I want to be in that position and if it does happen I would love to get some substitution appearances or even the chance to start. I’m also just trying to settle in with the team right now, work hard, and see where that takes me."
Given the players already in the Revs’ midfield, fulfilling that goal will be a tall task for Rudy. The Revs arguably have their deepest midfield ever, but with the proper attitude and commitment he has every chance to earn playing time and become a key role player throughout his rookie season.
Before getting to that point though, Rudy is reveling in the fact that he is now a professional soccer player. His path to MLS was by no means ordinary, but a lifelong dream is now a continually evolving reality.
"It hasn’t even sunk in yet, it’s so surreal, and I’ve been dreaming of this for 15 years," he said. "For it to finally happen, it’s just happened so fast. For the past couple of weeks I’ve just been trying to grasp what I’ve been through. It’s a dream come true, it’s still pretty surreal."