Justin Meram’s journey to Saturday’s game against Colorado Rapids can easily be categorized as less than ideal.

His 12-year Major League Soccer career spans four states, nine head coaches and countless teammates, includes 48 goals and 45 assists, and now playing in his 300th regular-season Major League Soccer match he becomes the first and only player from the state of Michigan to achieve such a milestone.

Raised in Shelby Township, Michigan, just north of Detroit, Meram grew up playing in the plains of the Midwest with local clubs like Vardar and for Eisenhower High School, a school that other than Meram has never produced a professional athlete.

His small town, humble beginnings led to him attend Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona as opposed to a traditional power five, or mid-major university. But after leading his team to back-to-back NJCAA National Championships and earning 2008 National Junior College Player of the Year he caught the attention of his hometown team, being offered a spot as a Wolverine at the University of Michigan.

After two years in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with 24 goals and 13 assists, he entered himself into the MLS SuperDraft. With the 15th overall selection, Columbus Crew took a chance on Meram, making him the first player from the University of Michigan to be selected in the first round and just the third in program history.

Flash forward more than a decade later and Meram has just played in his 300th regular season game, an accomplishment only 13 other players, currently in the league, have reached.

“I feel really old, that’s what it feels like,” Meram joked over zoom after the Colorado Rapids game when reflecting on what it feels like to play in his 300th match.

Since first joining the league Meram has naturally gone from a rookie to one of the more veteran leaders. At 33 years old he is tied with Everton Luiz and Marcelo Silva as the oldest player on Real Salt Lake’s roster, but after starting in five of the Club’s six games this season the spry forward leaves fans none the wiser.

But with age has come changes, both on and off the field. One of the most apparent being his role as a husband and father to his wife, Maxine, and son, Sebastian, both of whom he credits as being a new driving force.

“When you’re single and on your own things are different, you are competing for yourself,” Meram explains. “But with a family its different, you want to make them proud.”

But for Meram hitting 300 appearances is in some ways just another day, he has loftier goals in mind.

“I want to hit 50 goals and 50 assists next,” Meram said.

It’s a goal not too far out of reach for Meram. The forward currently has 48 goals and 45 assists, and when he hits the mark, he will be the 24th all-time in league history to do so, joining a list that includes Real Salt Lake legends Jeff Cunningham, Jason Kreis, and Javier Morales.

For now, though, he is thankful for the people that have gotten him to this point and will save hitting new records for the next game.

“I’m just so thankful and blessed for the coaches that I’ve had in my career, my teammates, my wife, my son, and lastly my family. Being in the league for 12 years and my 300th game, I wouldn’t have done it without my family supporting me through the tough times, keeping my mind sane, and keeping me pushing. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today,” Meram finished.