Teen prospect Johnson has big soccer ambitions

Sport has taken him this far, but he's hungry for more

Tampa Bay Rowdies left-back Tate Johnson makes a defensive header at practice. (Photos by Zeno Fu, Toronto Observer) 

TAMPA, Fla. – Tate Johnson has lofty aspirations for himself. 

The 17-year-old left-back plays on an academy contract for the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team, and has committed to playing at the college-level for the University of North Carolina.

Similar to many others who dream of playing the game they love for a living, Johnson looks to play professionally at a high level and eventually represent the United States.

“Definitely national team is one of my big goals,” said the young talent after a practice at the Tampa Training Complex. “And also sign my first professional contract in the near future.”

Rowdies head coach Neill Collins certainly believes Johnson can get there.

“Tate’s attitude has been really good … and if he continues to show the right attitude he can go right to the very top … potentially represent his country,” said the team manager. 

As a former professional player himself, Collins also gave a word of advice to the youngster.

“If he doesn’t do those things, he could find himself struggling to make a living in the game, and we’re just hoping we can kind of help him on that journey.”

For now though, the UNC commit is just grateful for the chance to play alongside more seasoned athletes.

Johnson signed an academy contract, which lets him retain eligibility to play for UNC.

It’s a great experience, I’m super thankful to be here,” said Johnson. “The guys have taken me in great since last season and this season, and just really helped to work with me … just teaching me the little ins and outs of the game.”

In a piece for chasingacup.com, youth scout Marcus Chairez wrote that Johnson is “a well-rounded left-back that does not have a lot of elite attributes, but is consistent.”.

The young player acknowledged these observations, agreeing with one point of the comments.

“My consistency is one of my attributes. Just trying to perform each and every day … be consistent, it helps the team a lot.”

Currently undersized for a professional soccer player and more so for a defender at five-foot-seven and 145 pounds, the left-back recognizes that while there can be advantages of being smaller, it may still be a hill for him to climb.

“Just have to be smarter than the other players, and reading the game well,” said Johnson. “I’m a hard worker, definitely. I always give it my all, trying to compete each and every day.”

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Posted: Mar 21 2023 7:47 pm
Filed under: Soccer Sports