As Justin Schmidt waited to hear his name called in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft last week, a certain anxiety struck him. While he was curious to find where his next stop would be in his soccer career, there was more poking at the nerves of the University of Washington center back than that.
Schmidt, who was eventually picked by Real Salt Lake with the 35th overall pick in the second round, didn’t have a television growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, spending an active childhood outdoors running, playing basketball and honing his skills on the soccer pitch. So there are few things more agonizing to him than to sit and watch a computer screen for hours at a time.
“It was hard to sit and watch,” Schmidt said. “I wanted to go for a run or something … but it was good to see where a lot of guys ended up.”
Restlessness turned into excitement when Schmidt learned where his next destination would be. At Real Salt Lake, he would be rejoined with General Manager Craig Waibel, a former assistant coach at Washington before coming to RSL in 2014.
There, he joins a veteran core of defenders that includes Chris Schuler, Aaron Maund, Chris Wingert and Tony Beltran, along with savvy returners in Justen Glad and Demar Phillips. With those pieces in place and with a coaching staff that includes former longtime MLS defenders Tyrone Marshall (337 career MLS appearances) and Mike Petke (307 career MLS appearances), he has plenty of people around who can help him adapt to the professional level.
He had plenty of success on his own, logging 80 career appearances with the Huskies and posting nine goals and 19 assists in the process as Washington was consistently among the top teams in the Pac-12.
“I’m pretty steady-Eddie,” Schmidt said. “I like to defend. I’m a good passer and I have confidence on the ball. Playing with the ball at my feet is something I take pride in.”
Schmidt is expected to join RSL in training camp in January 23 in Casa Grande, Arizona.