When Soccer America profiles the nation's top young players, we ask them to reflect on their early youth soccer years and share their outstanding memories. Here are some of our favorites:
2008 Olympian Dax McCarty of FC Dallas:
"When I was young, I was faster than the other kids. One time, I was dribbling. I was going so fast I dribbled past the goal. People were yelling at me to stop but I kept going. My parents had to stop me."
Midfielder Robbie Rogers of the Columbus Crew and U.S. national team:
"I was on one of my first teams and I scored my first goal. I was so excited. Unfortunately, it was on the wrong goal."
Taylor Vancil, University of Louisville goalkeeper and starter on the USA's runner-up team at 2008 U-17 Women's World Cup:
"When I used to play forward I was about 9 or 10 years old. I dribbled from half-field during a rainy game. I was one-on-one with the keeper. The keeper sort of moved as I was shooting. I ended up sliding into the goal with the ball in between my knees. That was pretty funny."
Toronto FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei:
"At a young age, my team went to a tournament in Austria. The keeper got hurt. So, I had a great idea. I volunteered to play keeper because I wanted to jump in the mud. My mom didn't think it was such a good idea because she had to wash my jersey."
D.C. United midfielder Rodney Wallace:
"When I was 8 years, I had a game but it was raining. My father and I thought the game was canceled but it wasn't. I went to the game and came on at halftime. I scored four goals."
New York Red Bull defender Jeremy Hall:
"My mom went to sign me and my brother up for baseball. But the registration was full. My brother tried to convince me to play soccer instead. I eventually gave in. I remember going to practice in jean shorts and shinguards over ankle socks."
Kansas City Wizards' defender Matt Besler:
"When I was in a tournament, I got to take a corner kick for us. I was about 7 years old. It might have been windy. I kicked it and went into the goal!"
Chivas USA midfielder and U.S. U-20 international Jorge Flores:
"My cousin and I took the bus to play a game. We didn't have enough money to get home. So, we walked and got home around 1:00 in the morning."
(Bryan Alvarez is Assistant Editor at Soccer America.)