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Archive for July 2, 2021

July 2, 2021 — A cautionary tale

I didn’t want too much time to go by before making a note of Olivia Moultrie, the 15-year-old who signed with the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Moultrie has had her childhood altered from the usual. She was homeschooled from the fifth grade and put on a boys’ US Soccer Developmental Academy team to get used to a faster game. Two years ago, she even made her verbal acceptance to play women’s soccer at the University of North Carolina. This is when she was in middle school, one of a number of athletes for whom many of the new rules on recruiting were written to address.

But a few days ago, after training with the Thorns for some time, she signed a professional contract with the team. That signature came after some legal wrangling which only ended with an injunction in Federal court. The NWSL had sought to prevent the underage signing, but the Moultrie family was able to persuade the court that the league, in imposing a minimum age of 18 to sign with the league, was engaged in an anti-competitive act, which is covered under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

So, Moultrie joins a number of teen signees in American professional soccer including the likes of Freddy Adu, Bobby Convey, Tim Weah, Gio Reyna, and Christian Pulisic.

But not all of the young signees have had successful careers in the long term. All you have to do is look at Adu’s Wikipedia page.

Freddy Adu splashed onto the U.S. scene with D.C. United in 2004, but has become something of a journeyman. He has played for 15 different clubs in seven countries during his professional career. Since leaving the Philadelphia Union in 2013, he has played exactly 36 first-team matches for the clubs to which he was signed.

Earlier this year, Adu lasted one month with Osterlen FF of the Swedish third division before his contract was terminated.

I sincerely hope that Moultrie takes care of herself and her career doesn’t fizzle out like that of Adu.