UCF soccer star drafted into MLS

By Zach Pardes Central Florida Future

February 8, 2008

Oviedo, FL (UWIRE) -- James Georgeff didn't bother paying attention to the Major League Soccer draft because he never anticipated on being picked.

The former UCF Men's Soccer forward knew the odds of being selected were extremely slim, especially coming off a disappointing 2007 season in which the Knights went 4-12-2 overall and finished the season on a 10-game winless streak.

He wanted to play professional soccer, but he also knew that the decision was completely out of his hands.

It wasn't until Georgeff received a phone call from an old teammate that he learned he had been selected in the 2008 MLS Supplemental Draft on Jan. 24 by the Houston Dynamo, the two-time defending MLS Cup champions.

"It feels awesome," Georgeff said. "It's unbelievable. It all came as a complete surprise because I didn't even know I had been selected until my friend called to congratulate me. I didn't believe him at first, but that's when it hit me."

UCF Men's Soccer head coach Bryan Cunningham worked closely with Georgeff and entered his name into the draft, making him MLS-eligible.

"The Houston Dynamo is a well-established team where every player is an impact player," Cunningham said. "We were able to make a lot of phone calls on James' behalf to help him out as much as we could, but he's a great player, and he did most of the work himself."

Georgeff, who hails from Newcastle, Australia, came to UCF prior to the 2005 soccer season after transferring from Clemson University.

At 6 feet 2 inches, 188 pounds, he made 16 starts and played in each of UCF's 18 matches last season, tying for third on the team with four goals.

"James is a great player and he's always upbeat," said Ryan Roushandel, Georgeff's former teammate and captain of UCF's 2007 team. "This season didn't go the way we wanted it to, but James had an excellent attitude and made the most of his senior year. Overall, it's been a great experience playing with him."

Roushandel and Georgeff had been teammates since 2004, when both played for Clemson before transferring to UCF.

"James needs to show off his abilities while he's at training camp with Houston," Roushandel said. "He needs to do the things he's been doing his whole life and play to his strengths while keeping a good attitude."

The Dynamo were founded in 2005 after the San Jose Earthquakes were relocated because of a venue-related issue. The majority of San Jose's players were moved to Houston, but the team's name, logo and statistics did not transfer, making the Dynamo a new team with no previous history.

The Dynamo, however, was not the only organization interested in drafting Georgeff. He was also drafted in the first round by the newly founded Orlando Sharks, part of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The Sharks play in the Amway Arena, which is also home to the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Predators.

"James got noticed because he moved to the next level," Cunningham said. "He keeps his head down and works hard. If he continues to do that, he'll do great."

Georgeff is not the only member of his family to play professional soccer, though.

His father, Stase, played with England's Leyton Orient Football Club, a professional English football team that plays in League One.

The Dynamo opened their 2008 training camp on Feb. 1 at Carl Lewis Stadium, located on the University of Houston's campus.

"So far, professional soccer is like college [soccer] on steroids," Georgeff said. "It's a completely different world. There's no room for any sort of error and the biggest difference is the speed of the game. In college, you can get away with mistakes that you can't get away with in the MLS."

Despite the great deal of success and a promising professional soccer career, Georgeff said he tries not to get ahead of himself.

"I know getting drafted doesn't really mean success," Georgeff said. "It's like a prettied-up, paid-for trial version. I am owned by the MLS, but that doesn't necessarily mean Houston has to keep me. I have to keep working hard to show them why I'm here."

Georgeff will continue training camp until regular-season play begins March 29 at New England.

(C) 2008 Central Florida Future via UWIRE

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