UW Soccer Star's Road To MLS
Jan. 16, 2008
By Sheena Nguyen
SEATTLE -- As a freshman, he was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and now three years later, he is only the second soccer player in Washington history to have earned both Freshman of the Year and Pac-10 Player of the Year honors.
During the first week of this quarter, while the returning members of the Washington men's soccer team were starting their mornings at 6:30 a.m. conditionings, senior forward Ely Allen was gearing up for the Major League Soccer combine that took place January 11 to 15 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
'It's four days where we play three games with about 50 other college kids there and MLS coaches scouting us out,' Allen said. 'Basically, it's one big showcase.'
The combine is the main event that precedes the MLS super-draft, which takes place on Jan. 18, and in which Allen is a top contender.
'Team-wise, I would be happy wherever I go,' Allen commented. 'Hopefully it would be somewhere that's a cool city that's maybe warm as well.'
Although it's not likely that he'll be staying local, Allen had been preparing for the combine with Seattle's own United Soccer League first division team.
'I've been training with the Seattle Sounders, running around, doing a lot of stuff to prepare,' Allen said.
Even though playing with some premier teams is the only recent preparation he mentions, getting ready for the combine and draft is something that he has been working toward since he first touched a soccer ball at an early age.
Allen comes from humble roots and began playing soccer with a recreational team that his dad coached. He later tried out for a select soccer team at the age of 12 and ended up on a U-15 team, playing with kids who were about three years older than he was. Afterward, some local coaches noticed the Kent-native standout and recruited him onto the local team. Later, Allen crossed paths with the now-assistant coach of the Washington men's soccer program, Seth Spidahl, where he played for the Emerald City team right up until he was recruited by the University of Washington.
'There are so many things you can do when you touch the ball,' Allen explained. 'Even when you watch a game, each game you watch is going to be different. When you play, everything you do is going to be different. And I just think the variety, that rush when you score, and the excitement of the game has been what's kept me going. It's just fun.'
His passion for the game is evident on the field and is something his teammates will miss.
'He's an extremely talented hard worker and humble as well,' junior midfielder and defender George John said. 'The team chemistry will probably change a lot because Ely is a fun player on and off the field, so we'll definitely miss his personality and his attitude towards playing soccer.'
Allen has also been a role model for many of the younger players on the team.
'Ely's work ethic is unbelievable,' freshman Taylor Mueller noted. 'I don't know how he works that hard. He's constantly sprinting.'
With the super-draft just days away, Allen's hard work has ensured that he's ready for this next challenge.
'Each level, you've kind of got to adjust to the pace of the game,' Allen said. 'Coming from club to college the guys are bigger, faster, stronger. I'm sure it will be the same way the next step up.'
As Allen has just returned from Florida and is still unsure of where he'll end up, there's one thing that's certain: With the numerous accolades and a career-best 11 goals this season, his soccer career at Washington will not be forgotten anytime soon.
'Four years of college flew by quick,' Allen said. 'I had a good four years here and am leaving on a good mark, so I'm happy.'