Despite committing to the University of South Florida to play college soccer, Mason Stajduhar always had one call.
The Orlando City Academy product wanted to play to be signed by the club.
"Being with the academy, it was always my goal to become a Homegrown Player and sign a contract with Orlando," Stajduhar told the club's website, after accomplishing his goal and being signed by Orlando City. "And fortunately I have been able to accomplish that. However, there is still a ton more work to do because I haven’t accomplished all of my goals. Not even close."
Stajduhar, whose goalkeeper coach, Tim Mulqueen, was former U.S. star Tim Howard's goalkeeper coach, played at the club level with the Clearwater Chargers, and has been a fixture with the U.S. squads at the U-18 level and, most recently, with the U-20s during the Four Nations Cup in Germany last month.
Stajduhar is still 17, and, as the Orlando Sentinel's Paul Tenorio noted, makes a two-hour commute from his home in Lithia to Orlando.
Stajduhar drives about two hours each way to get from his home to practice – waking up at 5 a.m. for the morning sessions – but he hopes to get an apartment once he turns 18 to make the commute easier by the time preseason training starts in February.
The trips should be well worth it, though, as he has the opportunity to learn from Orlando City keeper Tally Hall every day. Hall is one of the best keepers in the league, and in the first story linked above, Stajduhar told the club he takes advantage of those opportunities, as well as chances to learn from backup keeper Earl Edwards.
"They are great examples," continued Stajduhar. "Tally has been a starter in the league for a long time, and has had a really successful career and is a great goalkeeper. Earl is a great goalkeeper as well, and had a great college career. He also played with the youth national team. They have taught me a lot, and I learn plenty just by watching them. They are great examples."
Now we just need to find the kid a roommate.