By Matt Bradshaw —
The new year always brings new opportunities, and for Tate Schmitt it brought the prospect of playing at the professional level of his sport.
This week, Schmitt made the first step beyond leading U of L men’s soccer and signed a homegrown contract with Real Salt Lake in the MLS. The forward will don the Claret-and-Cobalt jersey and play the upcoming 2019 season.
“I’m very excited to have signed my first professional contract with Real Salt Lake and it’s a very proud moment for myself and my family,” Schmitt said.
It’s not often that a student graduates to find immediate success in the outside world, but it’s become commonplace to do so for a wide array of talented Cardinal athletes and no surprise at all for the well-accomplished Schmitt.
An All-ACC, All-American and Scholar All-American honoree, Schmitt graduated in December with majors in Business and Marketing. He helped lead Louisville to new heights this past season with the program’s first conference title while earning ACC Championship Tournament MVP.
Schmitt’s achievements on the field go well beyond titles, as he’s proven his wide-ranging abilities in repeatedly clutch fashion. The senior finished his career ranked fourth in school history in points (69) and sixth in goals (26), along with 11 game-winning goals (four in the NCAA Championship).
“Tate – he’s one of the special ones,” former men’s soccer head coach Ken Lolla said. “For all the big games that we played in, he was a guy that showed up on a regular basis. He’ll have a good career at the next level.”
Schmitt played two prep seasons at the Real Salt Lake Academy prior to his time as a Cardinal. The Phoenix, Arizona native saw his team post U-17/18 national runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015.
As a product of the RSL Academy in Arizona, Schmitt was able to bypass the MLS SuperDraft and sign a professional contract right out of college. The Homegrown Player Rule allows MLS teams to sign local players from their development academies directly to the first-team roster.
“I’m very fortunate that I came into the RSL organization as a 16-year-old and develop the foundation to learn and grow as a young player at a high level,” Schmitt said. “To be able to build relationships with some of the guys currently playing with RSL at the Academy really inspired me to reach the professional game.”
His final season at U of L did not end as planned, as Schmitt and the Cards notched an unexpected loss in the NCAA Championship second round. Still, the program’s first ACC Championship title is a major triumph and hopefully sets the stage for continued success in the future.
You can keep up with Schmitt as Real Sale Lake begins the 2019 MLS regular season on Mar. 2 at the Houston Dynamo.
You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.
Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal