At this month’s 2011 MLS SuperDraft, the selection process had stretched into the third, and final, round and Ryan Kinne’s name had not been called. He walked out of the Baltimore Convention Center and went back to his hotel room.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I left the draft because I was mad,” said the former All-American at Naugatuck High.
The wait was soon over, however, as the New England Revolution took Kinne in that final round, 42nd overall. Bedlam ensued. “My parents were jumping all around,” Kinne said.
For a two-time All-American at Monmouth University and a two-time nominee for the Hermann Trophy, the soccer equivalent to college football’s Hesiman, the wait was unbearable, but maybe not unexpected.
“I was overlooked, for my size, maybe,” admitted Kinne, whose has spent his entire career overcoming the opinion that, at 5-feet-8 — and even that might be a stretch — he was too short to play a significant role in a Division I program, or, too short to compete professionally.
He has beaten back those odds at every level. He is ready for the next fight. “New England has given me a great chance,” he said. “This is a dream.”
The opportunity in front of Kinne is a rare one for area soccer stars. John DeBrito, the former Kaynor Tech and Southern Connecticut State University soccer All-American, spent eight seasons in the MLS and played on the U.S. national team. Older brother Pedro DeBrito played professionally in the North American Soccer League, as did another Kaynor Tech star, Luis Silva.
Forget the size factor for a moment and focus on what Kinne can do: Run. He is fast and fast is good in soccer. His skill set with the ball is unrivaled. But at this level, everyone is fast and good, and he knows it.
“Potential gets you nowhere,” he said. “I will outwork everyone chosen ahead of me to get a roster spot, to be on the field, and have an impact. I will put in as much work as is possible to put myself in position to succeed.”
Three classes away from a degree in health studies, Kinne has put school on hold to prepare for Revolution camp, which opens Jan. 31.
Drafted by the Revolution in front of Kinne were A.J. Soares, an acclaimed central defender from the University of California; midfielder Stephen McCarthy from the University of North Carolina, lauded on the Rev website for standing 6-4; and also Notre Dame striker Steve Perry. Soares and McCarthy signed MLS contracts before the draft. They are already on the Revolution roster.
Kinne goes to camp with nothing but an opportunity.
“I have to earn my contract,” Kinne said, which can range from $32,500 to $42,500. No one gets rich in the MLS, unless your name is David Beckham or Thierry Henry. Kinne doesn’t see soccer as a revenue stream, though. The game, to him, is like the air he breathes. Soccer is life.
“I expect to do this for the rest of my life,” he said. “I will play for as long as I can, and try to stay out of the real world.”
Kinne has talked about this dream since forever. He would have liked to play basketball or baseball at Naugatuck, but he did not. His life was soccer, his dream was to play professionally and he sacrificed for it.
“You must push yourself to the max,” he said. “You might have to give things up. And I refused to listen to people who told me I could not do this.”
And then he said the most important words of all, which gives a glimpse into the fire that burns inside of him: “You can’t half-ass anything. Sorry.”
No need to apologize to me. I just worry for the welfare of any player who gets in the way of Ryan Kinne and his dream of playing Major League Soccer.