Connor Lade, the St. John’s men’s soccer team’s senior defender and co-captain, signed a contract with the MLS’s New York Red Bulls on Dec. 5.
Lade was a member of the Red Bulls’ academy system from 2007-2008 and signed with the team through the Home Grown Player Rule rather than entering the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself here,” said Lade. “I’m very thankful for everyone, the academy and everything with the Homegrown to build me up to this point. I’m really excited to be here and to get going and prove myself.”
While at St. John’s, Lade started a total of 86 out of 87 games, was a two-time All-Big East selection and was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the 2011 Big East Tournament.
St. John’s head coach Dr. Dave Masur, who has had 12 players drafted by the MLS in his 21-year tenure, has continually applauded Lade’s ability.
“We are very proud of Connor,” Masur said in a press release. “He had a remarkable career for us and continually improved each and every season in all aspects from field vision and tactics to confidence and understanding of the game. We are thrilled for him and wish him all the best in the next stage of his career.”
Pablo Battuto Punyed, St. John’s other co-captain, spoke words of praise for his teammate. “Knowing the caliber of a player that Connor is, there was no doubt that he was going to get signed,” he said.
Punyed, who was named the Big East Co-Midfielder of the Year this season, also has his sights set on a professional career. He played on the United States’ men’s national under-20 team in 2008, and despite dealing with a nagging ankle injury during the latter part of his senior season, he thinks that he can join Lade at the professional level.
“I’m still trying to figure it out, still trying to sign with an agent,” he said. “I can’t say anything on where I’m going to go or anything. I have no idea.
“I have leadership qualities, I have hard work, good ethics,” he added. “I’m a decent player technically and tactically,. I’ll provide physicality to any team and I’m ready to contribute to anywhere I would go.”
After playing mostly center back in his last two years at St. John’s, Lade projects to play fullback with the Red Bulls. They currently have seven defenders on the active roster. However, with defender Tim Ream linked with a move to Europe and Rafael Marquez moving from defense to a holding midfield role, Lade may get an opportunity to prove his ability at the professional level.
“We believe that Connor can compete on the professional level after having four strong years in college soccer and we are thrilled to bring him into our squad and think that he has a bright future ahead of him,” Red Bulls General Manager and Sporting Director Erik Soler said in a press release.