It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Eric McWoods Proves Betting on Yourself Works
For Eric McWoods, betting on himself is nothing new, he's been doing it for 24 years. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of spending time with the striker from St. Louis will tell you he is passionate about everything he does. Whether it is on the soccer field, or proclaiming St. Louis is the greatest city in the country, or defending Kobe Bryant's position as the greatest player of all time, EMac as he is known amongst close friends, is passionate about what he does.
Behind that passion is a fundamental commitment to the belief that hard work and a commitment to improvement will lead to success. That commitment to improvement has driven Eric from a rec league player in the St. Louis area to a high school All-American, a PDL National Champion and now a professional soccer player.
What started at a rec league after his parents wouldn't let him play American football, for safety reasons, has grown into something EMac has been working towards since he was 8 years old. Along the way, he's faced his fair share of obstacles but has managed to battle through it all with his faith in God and confidence in his ability as an elite goal scorer.
Coming out of high school, McWoods was one of the most sought after players in the country after a senior season that saw him break a plethora of records with his 47 goals and recognition as an All-American. Division 1 schools like New Mexico, Duke, and SMU came knocking but McWoods ultimately chose Xavier University, a new powerhouse that had qualified for three NCAA Tournaments between 2010 and 2013.
At Xavier University, McWoods would go on to make 35 appearances over his first two years before ultimately deciding the school wasn't a fit soccer wise. Transferring is always a tough choice to make but McWoods bet on himself to find a better situation. McWoods transferred to the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he would finish out his college soccer career with multiple awards and an 11-goal senior season, the most the school had seen in 8 years.
What followed was a roller coaster of emotions as he went through the draft, a PDL season and USL trials before deciding he needed another avenue. Where many would have quit, once again Eric bet on himself by signing with a pro agency that gave him the opportunity to showcase his talents for pro scouts.
After a dominant showing, teams came calling and McWoods ultimately signed for JK Narva Trans, a professional team on the border of Estonia. Narva Trans was in the highest division in Estonia and had an opportunity to compete in the Europa League, a competition featuring some of Europe's best teams and the best players in the world. A new language, new culture, new environment, and no family or friends for thousands of miles. Many would have considered this a challenge too great, but the way McWoods saw it, this was not a challenge, it was an opportunity to prove himself. 38 Games, 17 goals and 5 assists later.
You could say he came, he saw, and he conquered.
McWoods finished his season in Estonia as the team's Player of The Year, the Second Top Scorer in the league, recognition on the league's Team of The Year, all while leading Narva Trans to an Estonian Cup Championship, their first in 18 years.
If people didn't notice before, they sure do now. Tweets can be seen from support groups pushing him for the U.S. National Team. Those who know him will tell you McWoods pays no attention to this, he practically had to be begged to create a Twitter account and spends his free time with family and friends or on the field working as hard as always.
Past and current teammates will tell you of his obsessive commitment to improvement outside of team practices. One such story speaks of the hours he spent over his college career at improving his non-dominant left foot to make himself a more complete goal scorer. It was an uncomfortable experience but McWoods would spend hours every week year-round at improving his weaker foot. Day after day, season after season.
Fast forward two years later and in his first professional game, McWoods scores his first professional goal with a curling shot from . . . his left foot. That goal would go on to win the Narva Trans goal of the season and is a perfect testament to his commitment to success.
A look at Eric McWoods' Twitter bio reads, "The Lou 314", short and simple. An ode to the city he holds dearest. For now, he is back in the city of St. Louis mulling over a list of clubs who are interested in his services.
Whatever happens next, those who know Eric 'EMac' McWoods will tell you this is only the beginning.
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