“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
Congratulations! You’re in elite company. Like Andrew Farrell before you, you’re coming into the league at a time when it’s gaining popularity, and that means more scrutiny and more opportunity. Andrew Farrell earned $161,000 in guaranteed salary in 2013, and probably $100,000 more in endorsements, so I’m guessing that you’ll make about a quarter of a million dollars.
The good thing is that you’re no stranger to the bright lights. You’ve been to a World Cup qualifier in The Office. You know the expectations having been part of the Reggae Boyz. The pressure won’t be on you in the beginning, unlike some of your predecessors, because you have an established goalkeeper in your team already in Zac MacMath. You can take your time and get used to the speed and the differences in the game. You’ll probably play in the U.S. Cup and maybe in a few MLS matches next year, but you won’t be between the sticks every game.
I was a goalkeeper. Granted, I stopped playing in high school, but I at least know what it’s like to be the hero or the goat. We’re a different breed. It makes us the most fun to hang out with at parties.
Soccer in the U.S. is not really littered with stories of players who have lived extravagant lives and gone broke, a la Allen Iverson, Ron Artest, and the like. There are stories like that in Europe, though. Michael Chopra and Andros Townsend come to mind. You’ll see temptation, no doubt. The MLS publishes all player salaries, so it will be no mystery how much you’re bringing home, although people can only guess at your endorsement compensation. That’ll be a different experience than most people have.
So with that in mind, as a rabid soccer fan and a financial planner, I have a couple of (unsolicited) suggestions:
- Max out your 401k plan. The MLS has a pretty highly rated 401k plan, so take advantage of it. Pick a simple target date fund such as the Fidelity Advisor Freedom 2050 fund, which is offered in your plan, and forget about it. Don’t touch it until you’re showing your grandkids the pictures of you making the great save to win the MLS Cup.
- Keep living like a college student. You were at UConn and you’re not moving that far away by going to Philly. Split an apartment with a few teammates or a few friends and keep your expenses low. Want to show people how cool you are? Show it on the field. Let people love you for what you can deliver, not for how showy you can be.
- Be involved in your community. You’re living amongst the people who pay your salary. It’s fans who come to games, watch MLS on TV, and buy your jersey who are paying your bills. Remember that and give back. Little kids who get to spend a day with you will remember that day long after you’ve forgotten it. You can have a disproportional impact on the lives of others because of who you are.
Best of luck in your progression. Hopefully, one day, you’ll be the replacement to Richard McCallum and go to the World Cup.
However, when you play FC Dallas, I hope you go walkabout. Nothing against you, but I’m a FC Dallas guy!