David Beckham. Thierry Henry. Landon Donovan.
Those are just a few of the soccer stars that pepper the rosters of Major League Soccer teams in North America.
Now we can add another: Ryan Kinne, from Naugatuck, Conn.
Kinne, the former star at Naugatuck High School and All-American at Monmouth University, has signed a professional contract with the New England Revolution.
Kinne, a third-round draft pick by the Revolution, 42nd selection overall in the Soccer SuperDraft in January, has trained with the team for the past six weeks, and was offered a roster spot and a contract last week. Terms of the contract were not released.
“Well, to tell you the truth, I was confident coming in that they thought pretty highly of me,” said Kinne Tuesday by phone from the team’s pre-season training grounds in Kennesaw, Ga.
“The guys took me in, treated me well, made me feel welcome, and Coach (Steve) Nicol likes the way I play, so they signed me.”
The process was a long one for Kinne, who first trained with the club for two weeks at a 60-yard indoor facility in Foxboro, Mass. in early February.
But once the Revolution hit the green grass and full-sized fields of Orlando, Fla., Kinne got the feeling he belonged in the heady environment of the MLS.
“When we began to scrimmage in Orlando, I looked around and I was playing on the team with all the guys who were starters the previous year, and that’s when I first realized that the coach thinks very highly of me as a player, and that I can come in and do the job.”
The team’s first preseason game was Feb. 18 against the University of Central Florida. Kinne started, and scored the first goal of 2011 for the Revolution.
“That’s when it sunk in that this wasn’t just another practice,” Kinne said. “It was a fantastic, surreal moment.”
The first, perhaps, of many more.
“I have very big expectations,” Kinne said. “I’ve never been a guy who wants to sit and watch from the bench. If I continue to show well and play well, and continue to put the extra work in, I hope to make a strong contribution to the team this year.”
The Revolution break camp in Georgia Sunday, return to Foxboro for preseason media events, and then head west, to Los Angeles, to open the season March 20, 8 p.m., against the Galaxy. The first home game is March 26, 4:30 p.m., at Gillette Stadium, with D.C. United.
“To be able to play the sport you love is a dream come true,” adds Kinne. “I always played for the love of the game, but it is a great feeling to finally get paid for doing this.”