December 20, 2012
FROM SOUTHPORT TO MLS COMBINE
Foster looks to become second Hofstra player to play in the league
By Matthew Levine
|Hofstra defender Shaun Foster hopes to follow in the footsteps of Gary Flood and become the second Pride player to perform in MLS.
Photo courtesy of Hofstra SID
Buoyed by a stingy defense, Hofstra University fell just short of winning the Colonial Athletic Association men's tourney and reaching the NCAA Division I tournament this past season.
Defender Shaun Foster, a Stockport, England native, the anchor of the backline played so well that he was selected to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division I All-America team.
Then came an invitation to the MLS combine next month and gaining eligibility for the upcoming draft. If Foster is selected by a Major League Soccer team, he would become only the second Pride player to play in the league.
Those lofty aspirations are a far cry from when Foster arrived at Hofstra; he didn’t quite know what to expect. It took a conversation with coach Richard Nuttall, a fellow Englishman, to really understand what he was in for.
“I wasn't sure what to expect to be honest, although after speaking to my English coach I soon realized that the standard was going to be at a high level,“ Foster said.
Heading into this season was no different than any other for Foster.
“Personally, I was just hoping to improve on the previous two years. I knew that we needed to tighten up at the back so this was my main focus heading in to the first game,” he said.
However, as the team got together things changed quickly.
“As a team we realized early in pre-season, that we had a lot of ability," he said. "So we decided that our main goal was to win the CAA championship and gain an automatic bid into nationals, unfortunately we came up short losing the final in double overtime.”
The Pride fell to Northeastern, 1-0, in that championship game. However, Foster and the Pride had a lot of success to take away from this season, especially as a defensive unit.
“I think the main attributes were treating every practice like a game, keeping a level head, staying fit throughout the short but hectic season, communicating, and concentrating on one game at a time,“ he said. “When I keep things simple and lead the team from the back I think I'm at my best.”
When speaking of what made the team such a success as a unit, it was more than just the players themselves.
“I would have to say it's the way our coaches set us up as a team," he said. "It can be very difficult to play against at times, as we like to pressure high up the pitch and that starts with whoever is playing as forward for us, something that most teams don't do."
Foster has a chance to continue his success at the next level after being invited to the MLS combine. The Southport, England native will look to continue his career in a league that once may have been an after thought for a young Englishman, but now is seen as much more.
“It's something that I've thought about on and off to be honest," he said. "It has now developed into a really competitive league, and it's always been a dream of mine to play professional soccer, so why not here in America."
However, he knew that a long road awaits him to make the step up to a professional league.
“Obviously I still have a long way to go before being a professional player but if it happens then I think my consistency, reading of the game and communication skills will aide me if the transition is to be made,” he said. “I'll need to improve my physical attributes though as I'm pretty skinny for a central defender, something that I won't be able to get away with at the highest level.”
After spending the last three seasons at Hofstra, Foster reflected on his experience.
“It was a lot different to playing in England as many players here are a lot quicker and more athletic, where as in England we read the game a little better and tend to rely on our knowledge of the game,” he said.
Off the field presented a different culture as well.
“It's dramatically different to be honest," he said. I walk into classes and people are talking about NFL or NBA, where as in England we don't talk about anything other than soccer. Having said that, there are plenty of people who like the big three leagues [English, Spanish and Italian] and have good knowledge on them.“
If Foster continues to improve and can find a way onto an MLS Club, it would be an outstanding achievement for him as well as the school. He would only be the second player to perform in the league from Hofstra, with Gary Flood, who played for the New England Revolution, standing as the only one so far to do so. If this past season is any indication, Foster could very well find success at the next level as well.