Toronto FC rookie Demitrius Omphroy is unlike any player in the history of MLS, reports Jack Bell. The 21-year-old, was picked in the second round of the SuperDraft after a four-year college career a Cal, before which he spent time training with Sporting Club de Portugal Juniores in Lisbon in 2006-07, when he was 17.
“I loved Portugal, it was a dream,” Omphroy said. “They said they loved me and would follow through once I turned 18. But within a couple of weeks, I got sick. I started losing vision and some feeling in one foot. It didn’t prevent me from playing; it was just annoying. But I had to pack up and leave. My parents said my health was more important and that I needed to come home to be seen by my doctors. It was pretty devastating. I got freaked out; if I lose my vision I can’t play soccer at all. ... As corny as it sounds, M.S. prevented me from signing my first contract, but I have been able to overcome the disease so far and still sign a professional contract.”
Omphroy learned he had M.S., a notoriously difficult disease to diagnose. In addition to vision problems and numbness in his foot, he soon began to experience neck pain, what he called barberchair syndrome. A magnetic resonance imaging scan led a neurologist to say quickly that Omphroy had M.S., an unpredictable autoimmune disease that affects the brain and central nervous system.
“Now I have to pay a lot more attention to taking care of my body, what I eat, what I drink,” said Omphroy, who gives himself a daily injection of the drug Copaxone in one of seven spots around his body. On the field, Omphroy sees himself as a right-side defender with a lot of attacking qualities. But during preseason training in Turkey and Florida, Toronto’s new coach, Aron Winter, had Omphroy playing as an attacking central midfielder, his position in college.