USL PRO Feature
Thursday, February 6, 2014
BRADENTON, Fla. – It’s been a little more than a year since Michael Season became the fifth, and youngest, Homegrown Player in D.C. United’s history. Since then, he’s scored on his professional debut, made his debut in Major League Soccer, trained with Inter Milan and made his debut for the Jamaican national team.
Now in his second professional training camp, Seaton has added size and continues to grow as he works toward earning regular minutes for United in MLS. As he looked back on his first professional season, though, the time spent with the Kickers was a good, and valuable, experience.
“With me being young, I was 16, and scored my first professional goal at Richmond in my first game,” Seaton said this week at IMG Academy. “Hearing I was going to Richmond, it wasn’t like I was upset, I just know I have to work on getting to this level, to the MLS level, and Richmond helped tremendously. If I go again, I wouldn’t feel bad about that because I need to develop.”
Seaton’s debut came on the road against the Wilmington Hammerheads last April. After Luke Vercollone had given Richmond the lead in the second half, Seaton put the game away late as his speed took him away from the Hammerheads’ defense on a breakaway and he coolly slotted home his finish a little under a month before his 17th birthday.
“It was awesome,” Seaton said. “It was in the last minute and it basically secured the entire game, that we were going to win it. It was awesome and I wanted to score before I turned 17, so that was just a plus.”
Seaton finished with five goals in 17 league appearances for the Kickers last summer as his time was split between D.C. and Richmond. As the youngest player in the squad he appreciated the chance not only to play, but to learn from the experienced professionals at the club, such as Vercollone, Henry Kalungi and Matt Delicâte.
“They were great role models,” Seaton said. “Delicâte, playing my position, he’s a goal-scorer and that’s what I’m trying to create, that’s what I’m trying to start doing, go score a lot of goals as a forward. Deli is a person I learned from, and all the veterans on the team, even if they played defense for all I care, they told me what not to do, what to do, and they made me a better person and a better player.”
Seaton also drew parallels between his respective coaches at D.C. and Richmond, a sign of the shared visions and methodology shared between the two clubs.
“Leigh is very energetic and I get the same feeling from Benny anyway, so it was like similar people in different bodies,” he said. “Leigh shouts. Leigh is energetic, Benny is energetic, so it was like when I hear Leigh I think of Ben and when I hear Ben I think of Leigh, back-and-forth.”
Seaton went on to make his first start for United late in September, having made his debut as a substitute in August. The native of Spanish Town then received a call-up to the Jamaican National Team in October, making his international debut against Trinidad & Tobago.
After a brief offseason, the youngster then headed to Italy to train with Inter. Again the youngest in the group as he trained with the Italian giant’s Primavera (Under-20) squad, Seaton continued to grow as a player while absorbing as much of the country’s culture as he could.
“It was good,” Seaton said. “I brought my camera, I was taking a lot of pictures there. It wasn’t a vacation, everywhere I go is straight-up business, but it was awesome being in Italy. The language is very hard but I learned enough just to get around - hi, bye, good morning - little things like that to get me through the game.
“Playing with [Inter’s Primavera] is like playing with [United’s] first team. They’re very technical, strong, so going in there I learned a lot, especially from guys that were 18 years old, 19 years old. … Learning from them, learning from the coach, the way they play, I want to bring that back to the U.S.”
Seaton certainly appears to have a maturity beyond his years, but a youthful exuberance is also on display on and off the field. As one of the first Homegrown Players to be loaned to a USL PRO affiliate under the partnership between the two leagues, alongside Sporting Kansas City’s Jon Kempin and the Philadelphia Union’s Cristhian Hernandez and Jimmy McLaughlin, Seaton could soon be an example of a player whose growth was accelerated by the experience gained in USL PRO.
While older players such as Dom Dwyer and Brian Ownby shone in the first season of the partnership between the leagues, further down the road it may be players like Seaton who are the biggest beneficiaries. So, would Seaton like to emulate Dwyer, who through his role in championship seasons for both Orlando City and Sporting Kansas City became the poster-boy for the MLS-USL PRO partnership?
“No, I want to be myself and play to my potential, and everyone else should be striving for the same thing,” Seaton said. “Dom Dwyer, I learned from him too, I watched him play, a tremendous player, but I’m not going to go and say I want to be like Dom Dwyer, I’ll go ahead and say I want to be like Michael Seaton and be the best I can be.”
As far as Seaton has come in the past 12 months, his career certainly appears to be one that has many chapters lying ahead.