The road to signing with a club in Major League Soccer can be quite a circuitous route.
Along the way, the road can be filled with potholes.
But when that road finally leads to MLS, the hard work will be completely worth it. The player will likely appreciate donning the jersey a bit more than someone who made the jump without a bumpy ride.
Meet Lucky Mkosana.
Now, Mkosana hasn’t officially reached MLS yet. If that hurdle is cleared, he’ll be one happy person.
Mkosana was selected by the Chicago Fire with the 23rd overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft but was never signed to a contract. He had been playing with the Harrisburg City Islanders and recently came to the Union as a trialist.
He’s there practicing with his teammates but he’s not technically part of the team.
Don’t tell Mkosana that fact.
“It’s definitely hard being a trialist, but I feel like if I keep training hard and playing hard, good things will happen for me,” Mkosana said. “I’m playing hard every day, fitting in with the guys. I’m comfortable playing with the guys and they have given me support. I played against Antoine (Hoppenot) when he was at Princeton and I played with Chandler (Hoffman) at the (MLS) Combine.
“I think knowing some of these guys has played a huge part in me coming here to train. It has helped because they have all given me such good support.”
Mkosana, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound forward from Zimbabwe, was a star at Dartmouth. He was the 2011 Ivy League Player of the Year and a four-time member of the All-Ivy League First Team.
Oh, Mkosana scored 34 career goals, breaking a Dartmouth record that stood since 1953.
The mentality of a striker is there. All he needs now is a chance to continue that momentum in MLS.
“I know I can do it in this league,” Mkosana said. “I know what I need to do. I know I need to stay focused and not look at what happened in the past. It’s about the future for me. I have to keep training hard and keep my mind right, so when I get on the field in training or in Reserve League games, my mind is right. I know I can score goals. I know I can do it. I just have to keep working on it and wait for my chance to come.”
Mkosana has a unique first name and he hears about it all the time.
OK, so where did the name “Lucky” come from?
“When my mom was in the hospital with me and I was born, people kept coming in and bringing gifts and treating her nicely,” Mkosana said. “People were so nice her in the hospital when I was born, so a lot of people said she was lucky. That’s where my name is from. Through the years, people have used my name a lot, like saying, ‘You were so unlucky’ or ‘you were so lucky.’
“But no one ever made fun of my name. They just used it. It’s been all good.”
Mkosana has been more than good since beginning at Dartmouth. He’s been excellent.
To even be a trialist in MLS means the talent is evident. Now, Mkosana wants to take that next step and he’s more determined than ever to get to MLS.
“Yes, that’s where I want to be,” Mkosana said. “By my junior year at Dartmouth, I knew I wanted to play in MLS. I have confidence in my ability and I know I can play in this league I’ve scored in the Reserve League. It’s a matter of continuing to train hard and play hard every time I’m on the field.
He reflects and then adds:
"Being a trialist isn’t easy. You don’t have a contract. You have to work that much harder to get to where you want to go.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com