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Inglemoor grad, Redmond Crossfire star drafted by Houston Dynamo
Bothell native Anthony Arena’s first love growing up was always soccer. During his 10 years playing for the Redmond Crossfire Premier Soccer Club he had a common dream - to play professionally. Arena fulfilled that dream on Jan. 22 as he was drafted by the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer (MLS).
“I always thought I was capable of it,” Arena said. “My freshman year of college we had four or five guys leave for the MLS. But I knew I had to put in the work.”
But it is not that easy. According to the University of Georgia’s Career Information Center, only .08 percent of all U.S. high school players turn pro in soccer.
Arena, 22, knew he had some talent when he earned a scholarship to Wake Forest. But signing to play with the Dynamo was a completely different experience.
“It was always in my plans but when I saw that contract it was a whole different set of emotions,” said Arena, who signed his contract last week. “It is the pinnacle of all my goals.”
Arena’s goals are now career oriented.
“I am just working on making it into a game,” said Arena, who was the 18th player selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft. “My long-term goal of course is to start a game.”
Arena knows it will be tough to crack the 18-man roster but he has taken the challenge very seriously. He is in the process of moving to Houston.
“I like it a lot down here,” said Arena. “Summers are very hot. I am really excited.”
One of his dreams is to play the Sounders at Century Link Field.
“I think about it all the time,” said Arena.
The Dynamo will host the Sounders this season in Houston, so Arena will have time and another goal for next year when his team comes to Seattle.
The 2009 Inglemoor High School graduate contributes a lot of his success to his Crossfire coach, Bernie James. He admits that his coach’s tactics were a little controversial.
“He was it for 10 years,” said Arena. “We won state eight times. He found a way to get results. Many people didn’t like the way he went about things but he got results. He is the reason I got to play in college.”
At Wake Forest, Arena played in the Final Four during his freshman year and was voted to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) All-Freshman Team. His sophomore year was completely different.
“We had a lot of growing pains,” said Arena. “There was a lot of leadership put on young guys and we had our first losing season in 10 years.”
Despite the struggles he was still named to the Second Team All-ACC. Then, he spent most of his junior year injured.
His senior year he was healthy and he had a good season, although he says the team underachieved. But his individual play helped his stock with MLS teams.
“My coach told me my senior year that (MLS) teams were interested,” said Arena, who started 74 of 79 games he played in for the Demon Deacons.
Growing up, Arena focused his time at Crossfire and only played one season at Inglemoor High School, helping to lead the team to the state semifinals during his sophomore year. His sister also played for the Vikings and graduated in 2004.
He said that he often comes back to Bothell and plays in pick-up games. After all, his parents Chris and Kristi still live in Bothell. He said his mother was extremely excited when he signed his contract.
“My mom wanted to call me every day and my dad was excited too,” said Arena. “I have had a lot of good support.”