After a very strong career at USF scoring 37 goals and earning All American honors, Connor Chinn was selected by the New York Red Bulls in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft. It was exciting and a definite confidence booster, recalls Chinn, who was lucky to be selected by a team with lots of potential and a brand new stadium. Now, after scoring his first goals and signing a contract with the Red Bulls, Chinn’s future is bright and he is learning the difference between college and professional soccer.
“Mental strength,” says the Red Bull rookie Connor Chinn, when asked the main difference between professional soccer in the MLS and the NCAA Division 1 college game. “Physically, it’s not ridiculous,” said Chinn, who seems to have his mind and body in the right place after scoring four goals in preseason competition for the Red Bulls.
Curious to know more differences between MLS and NCAA college soccer I asked Chinn to describe his experiences. “The staff and coaches are very accommodating” Chinn revealed. “They even provide food and hotel rooms for the team before games.”
“It is a business,” Chinn says and people are not only fighting for a chance to play, like they did in college, but for their very livelihood. Losing your starting spot on a professional team can be disastrous for your career. “Practice isn’t fun and games anymore like it was in college,” Chinn said. “Every practice is planned out precisely according to the coaches’ wishes and the team stays very focused. “
Arriving more than an hour early for practice, Red Bull players will usually visit the strength and conditioning coach or the training staff in order to get a good warm up and do fitness. Because the game moves so much faster than in college, every player must keep his body in perfect shape so that when it comes down to the ninetieth minute, they have enough stamina and power to run up and down the field.
“Everyone in this league can play,” says Chinn, “so you always have to be thinking one step ahead and if you are unfit you won’t stand a chance.”
Fitness comes easier to Chinn than most; he felt very prepared after leaving USF because the coaching staff was so fitness oriented. This allowed Chinn to work on the finer points of his game instead of having to run sprints everyday to get in shape. Since leaving USF Chinn has started working toward what he calls a ‘Complete Player.’
In college it is enough to have one or two skills, such as being really fast or having a rocket shot, but in the pros you must be the complete package. His goal is to start getting more and more playing time and to develop into a more dangerous striker. By working hard with the Red Bulls’ staff and completely committing himself to the game, he feels he is improving everyday.
In comparing the social aspects of a pro team with those of college, Chinn said that it is a very similar dynamic just at a different level. “The guys are all pretty nice and everyone has a mutual respect for each other because they have all made it to such a high level.”
As a rookie, Chinn admitted to getting some hazing from the other guys, but said it was only in good fun. “There are still the senior guys on the team who you look up to,” Chinn replied, “but as long as you give people respect you generally get it.”
Going into his first season in the MLS, Chinn’s future is in his hands. A strong start to the year has definitely set the bar high for the USF alumnus, but Chinn’s knack for scoring goals will hopefully carry him far.
“Reassured,” he said, when asked how he felt about scoring his first goal. “It was nice to know that I could still score goals even at this level.”
With the 2010 season underway the New York Red Bulls will hope for playoff contention and Connor Chinn will hope to stay strong mentally and physically as he represents USF in the MLS.