When Joseph Greenspan decided to join the Naval Academy he considered his long-term prospects after college. Like any young soccer player he had dreams of going pro, but he felt Navy provided both great academics and an opportunity to play in a quality soccer program. He planned for a future without soccer.
The Colorado Rapids drafted Greenspan in the second round of the Major League Soccer Superdraft with the 26th overall pick; that was a choice for the long-term as well. Greenspan will need to complete at least two years of military service after he graduates in May. That did not seem to bother Rapids’ coach Pablo Mastroeni who stated in a post draft interview with MLSSoccer.com, “If he had come out in 2017, there’s no doubt in my mind he’d be the No. 1 pick.”
Greenspan credits the Navy’s program and head coach Dave Brandt for getting him to this point. While Greenspan followed the path of many youth players with college soccer ambitions, first training with FC Copa in central New Jersey then Match Fit for two years, it was the decision by Coach Brandt that got him on the national radar.
Going into his junior season, Greenspan was moved from forward to centerback to sure up a defense that had issues allowing late goals. Greenspan went from winning player of the week honors to becoming a two-time Patriot League Defender of the Year, a third team All-American in 2013, and first-team All-American in 2014. Brandt’s decision to move Greenspan, the team’s leading scorer as a sophomore, to the backline changed Greenspan’s trajectory from a probable All-Conference standout to one of the best defenders in the nation.
After his senior season, Greenspan attended workout sessions with the Seattle Sounders, Toronto FC and New York City FC. He played for DC United’s U-23 between his junior and senior season. According to Greenspan in an interview with Soccer Yanks, he was contacted by the Rapids and was informed that they scouted him when Navy played in Boston the last season. The Rapids followed his progression during his senior season in which he appeared on the NSCAA Hermann Trophy Preseason Watch List.
The Tuesday before the draft, the Rapids informed Greenspan they planned to draft him. Asked during our interview whether he is aware if Colorado will sign him to a contract during the two-year of service, he stated that it is unclear at the moment. As per prior situations with drafted players going to play aboard, it is likely the Rapids will hold his rights for time being.
Greenspan has a plan for the time between graduation and when he will be able to commit fulltime to a career in MLS. Greenspan will be stationed in San Diego, work a 9-to-5 schedule, and will train in the evenings, weekends, and during leave with a club team in the area. Greenspan anticipates Colorado will have some input as to the club he joins and will offer him opportunities to train in Colorado during his time off.
There are few doubts that the Midshipmen from Westfield, NJ will have the discipline to maintain his fitness as a part-time, likely amateur, player. While it is not the ideal situation to develop a rookie out of college, it appears Colorado and Greenspan are taking the long view. For Greenspan, it has worked out so far.