By Sammie Hill–
As the University of Louisville men’s soccer team relinquishes several of its players to the MLS, it will rely on incoming freshmen like Andrew Brody to maintain its rich tradition of excellence. Brody, a resident of the Grande Sports Academy in Arizona, has committed to Louisville for over year, but he officially signed to play for the Cardinals earlier this month.
“It feels great,” Brody said after signing to Louisville. “I have been committed for a year now and just to have this day to officially become a Louisville Cardinal is special. I can’t wait to join them.”
The Grande Sports Academy functions as a facility that breeds successful athletes. The Academy competes in the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy, the top tier of youth soccer in the nation, as the Real Salt Lake — Arizona Academy. Brody has been a member of Real Salt Lake — Arizona for over a year, training and honing his skills with the hope of committing to a top level collegiate soccer program.
Brody is originally from Orlando, Fla. “I moved here about a year and a half ago, and I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” he said.“It helped me get committed to Louisville and really prepared me for college soccer.”
As a standout athlete, Brody examined many schools and soccer programs during his search for the optimal fit. In the end, a variety of reasons drove Brody to select U of L.
“I visited a lot of schools, but when I got to Louisville, I really enjoyed the campus,” he said. “Everything felt right; the coaches and everyone made me feel at home. It felt kind of like it was a family, like it does here at the academy.”
As a residency soccer program, Grande Sports Academy fosters not only the academic but also the athletic and personal growth of young men. The 40-acre facility is comprised of 16 classrooms, eight professional soccer fields, a 58,000 square foot training facility and double occupancy dorm rooms.
Living and playing at the academy has given Brody a sense of what to expect when he arrives at U of L in the fall.
“Being here away from my parents and living with a roommate lets me see what college is going to be like,” he said. “Also, playing at a high level of soccer with players from all over the country helps prepare me for college soccer, so I feel confident going in.”
Real Salt Lake is the only youth soccer residency program affiliated with a major league soccer team. That team, Real Salt Lake, won the MLS Cup in 2009 and recently drafted U of L senior Brock Granger in the MLS Supplemental Draft. Granger joins other Louisville players like Andrew Farrell, who was drafted No. 1 overall, and Paolo DelPiccolo and Greg Cochrane, as they transition into the professional soccer realm.
Brody reveals that the ability of Louisville’s program to craft future MLS players aligns with his own aspirations of playing professional soccer after college.
“That’s part of why I chose Louisville,” he said, “because they have a history of sending players to the MLS. Being around some of the top coaches and players will help me improve and hopefully move me toward this goal.”
Brody and his incoming freshmen class will combine with the six transfer players that enrolled in U of L this spring to establish the new face of Louisville soccer.
“The group of players we have received this semester adds talent and experience to our team,” said head coach Ken Lolla about the six transfer students. “They are people of good character and will add to the culture of our program.”
Together, Andrew Brody and all of Louisville’s incoming players will work to compensate for the loss of those players surrendered to the MLS, striving to build on the success of the men’s soccer program and create a legacy of their own.
Photo courtesy of Grande Sports Academy