On Monday, Orlando City Soccer Club announced youth academy product, Mason Stajduhar as the clubs newest homegrown player.
At 17 years old, Stajduhar proves everyday what kind of impact hard work and dedication can have on a young player’s career. While most kids his age are just waking up for school in the morning, Stajduhar is already on road. A native of southwest Lakeland, the young goalkeeper drives two hours every morning to get to Seminole State Soccer Complex. After attending practice, putting in work in the gym, and fulfilling other team obligations, Stajduhar makes the two hour drive back home — five days a week.
“It’s about a four hour drive combined,” described Stajduhar. “It takes a lot of patience on the road all of that time. Having to get up much earlier and having to plan everything out to get to practice in time.”
Stajduhar’s work ethic is providing him with plenty of opportunities. According to multiple soccer prospect websites, Stajduhar is one of the most promising young talents not only in Central Florida, but the entire United States. Lions coach Adrian Heath believes that Stajduhar’s abilities will bring him very far in his career.
“Mason has come in from the level he has been at with our group and hasn’t looked out of his depth,” expressed Heath. “Obviously the pace is still a little bit new to him, and the speed that players kick the ball is all relative to the age group that he has come from. Obviously he has huge upside. He has great size; he works hard and he wants to learn. If he keeps it up and stays injury free, he has a great chance.”
Stajduhar doesn’t let his age limit his expectations. The teenage phenom already has his sights set on what he wants to accomplish.
“Being with the academy, it was always my goal to become a homegrown player and sign a contract with Orlando, and fortunately I have been able to accomplish that. However, there is still a ton more work to do because I haven’t accomplished all of my goals. Not even close.”
Not only does Stajduhar have more goals to accomplish as he begins his professional career, he has his mind set on a player that he would like to emulate as well. “I really want to play for the US National Team and follow a similar path of my idol, Tim Howard. I have been working for with one of his coaches he had when he was a kid, Tim Mulqueen, who has been a big part of my success. I really believe I can follow a similar path to Howard.”
Another advantage that the U-18 International has working for him is the ability to train daily with Lions goalkeepers Tally Hall and Earl Edwards Jr.
“They are great examples,” continued Stajduhar. “Tally has been a starter in the league for a long time, and has had a really successful career and is a great goalkeeper. Earl is a great goalkeeper as well, and had a great college career. He also played with the youth national team. They have taught me a lot, and I learn plenty just by watching them. They are great examples.”
Stajduhar has achieved a lot in his short career. With his work ethic, and pure ability on the pitch, there is nothing stopping him from reaching his goals of being one of the best goalkeepers in the United States.