Gamecock senior men’s soccer player Tyler Ruthven is hoping to hear his name called by a Major League Soccer team this Thursday when the league holds its annual SuperDraft in Philadelphia at the NSCAA Convention. A defender from Alpharetta, Ga., Tyler played three seasons for the Garnet & Black after transferring from the University of San Francisco. Tyler was named to the All-Conference USA First Team in 2009 and also garnered third team All-South Region honors.
What’s the experience been like as far as getting noticed for the draft and putting yourself out there to start your career as a professional?
MLS is only about 16 years old, so there’s not a lot of money invested yet into identifying players. After my sophomore year, I worked out with the Colorado Rapids and after my junior year, I worked out for the Chicago Fire. So that was good for me to get myself out there and have a chance to get invited to the combine. [Editor’s Note – In the summers between his sophomore year and junior year, Tyler played in the USL Premier Development League which gives college soccer players a chance to play high level soccer during their break while still maintaining their college eligibility. An appropriate comparison would be the wood bat summer leagues for college baseball players.]
What’s the next step to getting drafted?
The league invited 60 players to Fort Lauderdale for the MLS Player Combine. Everyone thought I would get an invite, but I didn’t and was named an alternate. A few clubs do private combines where they invite 30-60 players that they would like to see in a more private setting. D.C. United invited me to their combine and then a couple weeks later, the Seattle club [Sounders FC] invited me to Las Vegas. There’s also a team in Portland that will begin playing in MLS next year and they’ve contacted my agent and are interested in signing me.
How’s draft day going to be?
I’m just hoping that someone will pick me up – it would probably be towards the end. The draft is only 4 rounds – 64 players. I’d love a shot to go to preseason. If I don’t get drafted, there’s always a shot I could get invited to preseason as a free agent.
What have you been doing since South Carolina’s season ended to prepare for a pro career?
I took a week off and I didn’t even move just to give my body a break. After that I started working out with Billy [Anderson, assistant strength coach at South Carolina] on a lot of fitness-based stuff. I’ve been working out at least 4 times a week ever since and doing a lot of running on my own as well.
What do you think you can bring to the table for a professional team?
I’m a 6’2 center back – to play that position in this country, you have to have some size. I think my athleticism as well, I’ve always been told that for a big man, I move pretty well.
Do you have a particular professional club you’ve always followed?
Not really any one team – I try to watch the game abroad as more of a student of the game and not as a fan. I’ve always loved the way Arsenal plays, but I’m not necessarily a fan of them.
Is there a professional player that you’ve seen that you admire and try to model your game after?
The last couple of years, [Nemanja] Vidic from Manchester United is a player I’ve followed. He’s someone who has a similar body type and style of play.
Editor’s Note – see video of Vidic in action below:
The MLS Draft will be held on Thursday with preseason training scheduled to begin on Feb. 1. Good luck to Tyler!