Alums succeed in U.S. soccer
For Matt Nyman '99 and Bobby Meyer '99, soccer is life.
Both are former All-Ivy soccer players for Dartmouth who continue to dedicate themselves to the sport in U.S. professional leagues.
Nyman is currently a backup goalie for the Tampa Bay Mutiny in America's highest division, Major League Soccer (MLS). Meyer, originally drafted to play for the Colorado Rapids in MLS, has now been a key player for two years on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in a minor league just below MLS.
Nyman was a slightly less-heralded pro prospect despite his imposing size and skill. He only began to receive the serious attention of pro scouts after a stellar junior season.
Undrafted after graduating, Nyman had tryouts with the Dallas Burn and the Kansas City Wizards of MLS. But the goalie actually made it to the big leagues in Tampa thanks to his presence on the national Project-40 team that showcases young talent.
Nyman is "a very driven athlete," Dartmouth men's soccer Head Coach Fran O'Leary said in a recent interview. O'Leary recruited and coached both Nyman and Meyer.
Meyer, on the other hand, tended to be "a little more laid back," O'Leary said.
Like Nyman, Meyer's college soccer stardom came late in his career. O'Leary moved him from center midfielder to defense before his junior season, and Meyer excelled.
"Matt and Bob are unspoiled lads who love their soccer and have the uncanny ability to make the players around them better," O'Leary recalled. "They both have a terrific belief in their abilities and the strength of character to perform at their best in big games."
Meyer's success as a professional has been mixed. He was waived by the Rapids after a only month but played a promising first year in Pittsburgh.
Meyer enjoyed success early in his sophomore season with the Riverhounds, but injured his back during the season in July. He is now undergoing therapy sessions three times a week in hopes of a return to the team by the beginning of next season in March.
The up-and-down career of a professional athlete is a long way from where Meyer said he started: as a five year-old kid playing little league soccer.
"I knew I had some kind of talent right away," Meyer said in a recent telephone interview. "When I was just six or seven, I was already that kid scoring 10 goals a game."
He and Nyman succeeded through the youth ranks and in high school. But while many aspiring soccer players would have looked to a big Division I powerhouse to further their careers, Nyman and Meyer seemed to have sensed the fickleness of their potential trade.
"I was recruited by many schools for soccer, but I picked Dartmouth for academic reasons," Nyman said.
And neither one said he regrets his decision to come to Dartmouth.
"I enjoyed everything about being at Dartmouth: soccer, social life," said Nyman, who majored in history and managed to balance the commitment of varsity soccer with the social demands of belonging to the Chi Heorot fraternity.
Meyer, an economics major and a member of Alpha Delta fraternity, echoed the same sentiments towards his alma mater.
"I was just up at Dartmouth for a week, just hanging out with the team," he said. "It was great to be back. You don't realize how much you will miss this place."
For many Dartmouth graduates, the future is not a source of worry, but neither Nyman nor Meyer plans to rest on the laurels of his Ivy League degree.
"I want to further my [soccer] career more," Nyman explained. "I would like to win a starting spot on a major league team."
Said Meyer, "I'm enjoying the life, doing something I love to do."
Down the road, the working world awaits, but for now it's determination and glory in the soccer world.
"I'll retire from soccer years from now, hopefully, and get a job in the real world," Nyman explained.
Hopefully a Dartmouth degree will help him out with that?
"Yes, hopefully it will," he agreed.
Meyer is currently enjoying the rigors of the path he has chosen. Does he hope for more than the minor leagues?
"Definitely," he confirmed.
A healthy Meyer should see lots of playing time for his current team and an improving Nyman may just win that starting spot. We'll keep our eyes on the two.
There seems to be plenty more in store for them on the pitch.