TAKING IT INDOORS: NPSL ALUMNI IN THE MASL (PART I)

Bronil Koochoie is a globetrotter, but not of the Harlem variety.  Rather he is a soccer globetrotter, someone who travels the world in pursuit of playing the game at its highest level.  And what a journey it has been been for the Tehran, Iran native.

From California to Sweden to Thailand and Iran and everywhere in between, Koochoie has been getting the job done.  Now a pro with the Las Vegas Legends of the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), he admits it has been a long and winding journey.

Coming off a successful high school career at Turlock HS, Koochoie would play for several California clubs before landing with the USL’s California Gold in 2004.  He would remain there until 2007 before playing with the Fresno Fuego and eventually heading overseas to play in Sweden’s second division with Assyriska FF in 2009.

Koochoie would end up with Iran Super League club Saba Khom FC in 2010 before signing with Thailand’s Chon Buri FC in 2011.  He would eventually return to the States later that year to play with the LA Blues of USL PRO.

Going on a whirlwind and global journey was no picnic for the young soccer star, given the major differences he experienced overseas.

“Their approach is a bit different, the weather and the fields too,” Koochoie commented.  “The language obviously was a barrier, but in every situation futbol was what all of us had in common.  That made things easier even though I may have not spoke or understood the language.”

A turning point came for Koochoie in 2012 when he signed with Real San Jose of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL).

“It kept me training and playing at a high level, which resulted in a professional indoor career later that year with the Turlock Express,” Koochoie added. “The quality of play in the NPSL was really good.”

He was quick to give credit to the staff in San Jose, which helped make his time in the NPSL both positive and beneficial.

“Benno Nagel and Nick Arellano kept me grounded and always pushed me to work harder, they never let me settle.”

Not settling for second best is a big part of the NPSL experience, one that prepares players for the next level.  And he picked up some great memories in San Jose along the way.

“The one that sticks out was the game-tying goal against Fullerton Rangers in the 90th minute. Also helping the team finish fourth that season, considering they finished in last place the season before.”

Playing in the NPSL provided an opportunity to return to the game as a professional, which he did with Turlock, the Dallas Sidekicks, and now the Legends.  Today Koochoie is a rarity in the game, a star both indoors and out.

The indoor game was a bit of a transition at first, but luckily he had the skills needed to manage the change.

“I would say my athleticism and overall soccer IQ combined with my work rate allow me to contribute both indoors and outdoors. I have good skill and speed and I can strike the ball both feet and am good in the air as well. ”

No wonder he is a rising star in the MASL. The fast, high-scoring indoor style plays right to his strengths. And he now has a tremendous career in the pros thanks to his prior experience.  Of course Koochoie credits his family and faith for supporting him on this journey.

His brother Benny plays professional basketball overseas, while his mother Nini is a former professional volleyball player in Iran who also spent time with the national team there.  The soccer influence comes from his father Robert, who played for one of Iran’s largest clubs as a youth.

“I’ve been enjoying an amazing career considering I never really thought I would play at the professional level nor did I think I was going to be given the opportunity. I got both as the opportunity came and I made the best of it and now I have a career. I work hard everyday because I know how blessed I am to be in this position.”

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