Jeremy Ebobisse explains his unique soccer journey

The diehard Charleston Battery fans have gotten a chance to see future star Jeremy Ebobisse up close after being loaned by the MLS. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
The diehard Charleston Battery fans have gotten a chance to see future star Jeremy Ebobisse up close after being loaned by the MLS. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports /

Jeremy Ebobisse left Duke early to sign with the MLS, and the Charleston Battery attacker explains his thinking, his future, and his name.

“I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”  (Robert Frost- The Road Not Taken) Yes, I quoted the great Robert Frost to begin a soccer article. It applies perfectly to the start of Jeremy Ebobisse’s professional soccer career.

The 19-year-old was a star at Duke, and for the USMNT U-20 squad. He is, by every account, the first player to withdraw from college, sign with the MLS, and be loaned by the league until he’s eligible for the SuperDraft. Ebobisse joined the Charleston Battery of the USL, and will finish out the season with them before entering into the pool of 2017 MLS SuperDraft prospects.

I had the opportunity to talk to Jeremy Ebobisse about the decision to leave Duke, his future with the USMNT, and the support of his family.

Q: So, you left Duke early, signed with the MLS, and now play for the Charleston Battery of the USL. How did you get here?

Jeremy Ebobisse: I had been in sporadic contact with the MLS for some time, and eventually the talks got pretty serious. My goal had always been to become a professional as soon as the right possibility had arisen, so when the MLS came forward with the offer and the level of interest, it was clear to me that this was the opportunity that I had been waiting for. The timing is definitely unusual, but as I said, it was the perfect opportunity and I was ready for it, so I did not want to wait.

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Q: The MLS sent you to Charleston, do you know why the Battery?

Ebobisse: I am not exactly sure of the factors that led me to Charleston as this kind of signing (and the timing) was unprecedented, but I am glad to be here. Charleston Battery has a long, successful history in the USL, and for them to give me the opportunity to come into an established program and push myself on a daily basis is exactly what I need at this point in my career. My hope is that I will be able to contribute to the teams efforts in bringing back the USL championship to Charleston.

Q: Obviously, it hasn’t been too long, but what differences have you noticed from NCAA to USL?

Ebobisse: It is still early in my career, and I have only played two games but one structural aspect that is completely different is the rule set. Getting used to no reentry and limiting subbing is definitely something I have had to adjust to. In terms of play, it is evident that the players in the league are full-time professionals. The decision-making and speed of play is generally quicker than college, and the guys have more experience so they approach different situations in a given game in a more refined manner.

Ebobisse’s first goal as a professional against FC Montreal

Q: You have been a rising star through the US men’s youth teams. How proud are you to play for your country?

Ebobisse: Playing for ones country is the most important part of any soccer player’s career. Everything I do is to put myself in the best position to represent my country, whether in club or international play. Putting on the crest is something that I have been fortunate to do several times in the past, but that I can never take for granted. Its the greatest honor for any soccer player, simply put.

Q: Who is one player that you have tried to model your game after?

Ebobisse: Karim Benzema is my favorite striker. I feel that there is an eloquence to his game and his movement. He may not always be the one on the scoresheet, but he is always involved in the attack, whether he is unselfishly running off the ball to provide space for his teammates or setting them up himself. His skill set is unique in that he may not be the most physically imposing striker, but when he is on the ball he is tough to dispossess due to his skill and awareness of defenders around him. As a striker, he has put up 20-30 goal seasons at a consistent level and has been at the top of the game since he was very young. He is definitely someone I try to emulate.

Q: This has been a year of big life decisions for you. How important have your parents been during this time?

Ebobisse: I have been lucky to have the full support of my family in my decisions. From taking a little leap of faith in taking a semester off in January, to foregoing my final years as a student-athlete, my parents and brother have been behind me, backing whichever decision I went with. They share the same passion for the game as I have so when I told them I felt I was ready, they were very happy for me and excited for the journey. Even now, they help me with the little things as I adjust to my first couple months as a professional.

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Q: How often do people actually pronounce your last name correctly?

Ebobisse:  Its pretty uncommon that someone pronounces my last name properly the first time, but the levels of butchering differ immensely. I have gotten pretty used to it not being pronounced properly.

Q: Do you have any nicknames the fans should know?

Ebobisse:  It is actually from my brothers nickname, but in the past I have gone by Jebo. It is derived from combining the beginning of my first and last name, but so far I have not really mentioned it on my more recent teams. I will leave it up to chance if the name carries on.

Q: Before a game, what are three songs that have to be on the playlist?

Ebobisse: I like to have a mix of calming and pump up music to balance the emotions of a given game.

Don’t Play – Travis Scott
Younger – Seinabo Sey
RGF Island – Fetty Wap