Brad Stuver was in the MLS Goalkeeper Pool for the 2013 season. Making up 50% of the pool, one could say it’s one of most exclusive positions in American sports. Last season, he was regularly called out to various teams that needed more depth to their goalkeeper chart. He appeared on rosters for the Crew, New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA as well as making reserve games. There is a highlight video here of his time in the combine, along with one of the cooler kick saves I’ve ever seen at the 0:39 mark. For a little more on the goalkeeper pool, you can read this article.
At one point did you realize you could play professionally? Was that something you wanted to do growing up or was it in your last years at Cleveland State you thought that you could continue with soccer?
Mostly growing up. I always thought I wanted to play professional soccer. I never really knew the reality of how hard it was going to be. I always heard stats that 1% of youth players make it to Division 1 [sports] and .5%, or whatever the stat is, make it to professionals. When I was in college I went on a couple trips to MLS teams and that’s when I knew I could make it.
In the 2013 Superdraft you selected by Montreal. You’re the first goalkeeper picked in the draft. What happened with Montreal?
It was just one of those things that Montreal had a plan that they wanted to go through with and I wasn’t a part of their plans at that time.
What was the next step for you? How did you find out about the goalkeeper pool?
After Montreal, I was at home. My agent was calling different goalkeeper coaches throughout the week that we had been in contact with before the draft to see if they needed anybody else to come into their camps. Everyone was pretty much set but a couple of coaches told us about the league pool. Some of them were very nice and contacted the league for us and got me on the track to becoming one of the league pool goalkeepers.
How does the contract with the pool work? Is it kind of known that Brad Stuver wants to play goal or are you in contact with the league somehow?
I’m in contract with the league for one year. I signed in March and my contract is up in December. It’s a one year contract that says I’ll have a host team, which is the Columbus Crew, and I train there every day unless a team calls me because they have extreme needs due to red cards or injuries.
How do these teams get in contact with you? Does your agent get in contact with them or do they contact you?
A team administrator will call me or they’ll call my agent. They’ll tell us they need me to fly out and then the next thing I know I have an email confirmation with flight details.
And how much of a heads up do you usually get for that?
Normally it’s about a day.
Is that stressful at all? Turning around one day and flying out and coming back?
It’s a little stressful but most of the time it’s been longer than just a day. I’ve been called out a week before the game, stayed a week through the game, and then I come home. It’s more the constant stress of not knowing where I’ll be on a week to week basis.
What are major pros and cons of being in the pool?
I’m very thankful to be in this position with every that happened. I get to say I’m a professional athlete and I get to train at the top level every day. I’ve learned so much this year. I’ve travelled to four or five different teams so I’ve gotten the feel of multiple teams throughout the league. I’ve gotten exposure to coaches that I normally wouldn’t get exposure to, which is a great thing. The only negative is that you don’t really have one team affiliation. So you’re not really part of one team. You’re more like a nomad. And the constant not knowing where you’re going to be week to week but overall it’s not bad.
When you arrive at other clubs, what is the relationship like with you and already established goalkeepers there? Do they ignore you or are they pretty helpful?
Everywhere I’ve gone, all the goalkeepers have been extremely nice. They’ve all been very helpful. They’ve all helped me grow as a young goalkeeper. They all help me during training sessions and tell me their experiences. Every goalkeeper is different, so getting all the goalkeepers’ perspectives on things has been great.
Next season, are you looking to get plugged in with a team or do you feel comfortable enough with the pool?
Next season I’m hoping to get picked up by a team, wherever it may be.
Brad was recently signed by the Columbus Crew in the 2013 Waiver Draft. He joins Andy Gruenebaum, Matt Lampson, and Daniel Withrow in Columbus.