The third article in the series chronicling Jeremy Ebobisse’s path to the Superdraft will cover his decision to leave Duke and sign with MLS, and the loan stint in Charleston that followed.
A big reason for the title of this series, The Draft Road Not Taken, is that Jeremy Ebobisse’s story is the first of its kind. Last summer, he made a big decision. He would leave Duke early, and sign with Major League Soccer. “I decided to sign for the MLS over the summer when I realized they offered me exactly what I was looking for,” he explains. “In becoming a professional at a younger age, I would be exposed to a first team environment and would be able to push myself on a regular basis. I hoped to learn a lot from the experienced players in order to grow and reach my goals.”
A place he described last article as “a perfect blend of academics and athletics”, Duke was a difficult place to leave prematurely. On the toughness of the decision, Jeremy said “Obviously it’s never easy leaving a place you consider your home. Duke is responsible for some of the most beautiful memories. Some of my best friends are still there, and I try to visit as much as I can. In the end, everyone was pushing me to reach new heights and seize the opportunity so I knew that it was the right move to sign.”
Who are the people he’s referring to that encouraged him? “I spoke to a few of my teammates quite a bit before making the decision. I already knew where my family stood but I wasn’t quite sure how my friends at Duke felt. They pushed me to go and that was really the turning point.”
After he officially signed on with Major League Soccer, the question was, where would he play the 2016 season? The destination was Charleston, South Carolina. Jeremy joined the USL’s Charleston Battery on a loan. “The transition at Charleston was pretty comfortable logistically. Everything was set up for me when I arrived so that I could seamlessly join in with the rest of the group,” described Ebobisse. “Adjusting to the level of play and catching up on fitness was a bit more challenging, but by the end of the season I felt good about the way I was playing and how I was getting on in Charleston.”
His loan was a unique early taste of professional soccer for a player not yet drafted or signed by a team. Jeremy reflects on the experience, “I think playing with Charleston helped me most with acclimatizing to the locker room culture. Before when I was in a locker room, I was either the oldest, or best friends with the oldest guys so to walk into a locker room with men who had families and were far older than me was quite different.” Being the youngest person there showed me a different perspective that I’ll be in for the near future, so it was good to experience that this past fall.”
The USL is a league on the rise, and Jeremy enjoyed his stay. “I really enjoyed the fans. I didn’t know what to expect going into the USL season so I was caught off-balance to see how interactive the fans were with the teams,” Ebobisse shared. “Playing in Cincinnati was probably one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to for a soccer game, at any level.”
Watch his first professional goal below!