By Ryan Makuch/NPSL.com
The start of the MLS season is, at least somewhat, back to normal following the COVID-year-that-was last season, which included the MLS Is Back Tournament to kick things off. This preseason marked the first for Collin Verfurth, who is ready to get his MLS career started.
“Preseason went really well, training’s been going very well,” said Verfurth, the 25-year-old center back hailing from Reston, Virginia. Verfurth is another NPSL alum on an increasingly long list of professionals who gained valuable experience in the NPSL.
Verfurth spent his 2018 summer season with Northern Virginia United, who played their matches in Leesburg, just a short drive from where Verfurth’s hometown. The season spent with the side was also the club’s inaugural campaign, something that Verfurth cherishes about his time with the team.
“For an inaugural season, being built in such a short amount of time, the number of fans was solid,” Verfurth said. “Especially the younger club soccer kids,” Verfurth added, noting with happiness about the desirability that an autograph from a hero or two had on the young kids.
That inaugural season yielded very positive results as the side finished second in the tough six-team Mid-Atlantic Conference, and made the postseason in their first year of existence. Verfurth also noted the pride he held in the team’s sustained success in producing exceptional professional players, and bringing strong Division I prospects into their ranks. Verfurth specifically mentioned goalkeeper Colin Shutler, a 2021 second round SuperDraft selection and recent North Texas SC signing, as a former teammate that was joining the elite ranks of professional soccer.
That summer experience was also vitally important for a huge reason: learning the position he is making a living in as a pro.
“Growing up, I was also a center midfielder, in college I was always a center midfielder, and then Coach [Brian] Welsh when I went to Northern Virginia United, we just had a lot of central midfielders and no center backs,” Verfurth said. “He saw my size and my ability, and he put me at center back. And that was the very first time I played center back in my career.”
Verfurth praised Welsh, an excellent center back and winner of silverware in Scotland’s top-flight with Dundee United in his own right, in helping show him the ropes of the position and get him up to speed with the position’s demands.
Verfurth’s former club remembers that positional change that Verfurth underwent and hailed the young center back for his professionalism.
“Collin came to Northern Virginia United from Virginia Tech with a great attitude and you could see was a natural leader and born winner,” NVU Director of Soccer Chris Jennings said. “He began captaining the NVU side from center back regularly and in just his first season was named to the Mid-Atlantic Conference Best XI.”
He also noted the international interest in Verfurth as a player.
“There were also some potential options for him to play professionally in Australia before he ultimately earned his chance in the U.S.,” Jennings added. “We are thrilled for Collin to have signed his contract with New England and wish him continued success in his career.”
What about the here and now for Verfurth and his future? Currently, Verfurth is rehabbing from an ankle injury and looking to get back to full fitness. The Revolution took a point on the road from Chicago before beating D.C. United 1-0 at home to start the season on a positive note.
Talking about the adjustments necessary to getting accustomed to an MLS preseason, Verfurth noted stretching and an emphasis on staying physically strong as keys to getting through the 6-7-week preseason, which is substantially longer than the 2–3 week-collegiate preseasons.
In talking about goals, Verfurth’s current goals are twofold: to get back to 100% health, and to make his MLS debut.
“It’s been something I’ve been wanting for a while now, being an MLS player for a season-and-a-half, and so right now it’s about getting myself on that roster, keep competing to get on that roster and make my MLS debut, make the most of that opportunity, and fight to get into the starting eleven,” Verfurth said about that aspiration to get on the pitch in an MLS match.
When asked where he sees himself in five years, Verfurth responded with the answer of a model professional: “I see myself ideally still on the Revolution, being a veteran, and kind of doing what these current veterans are doing for the younger guys coming in. Kind of showing them the ways and how to handle these longer seasons they’re not used to.”
Collin Verfurth is hungry to prove himself at the top level of the sport in the United States. And with his stellar attitude, plentiful experience, and technical and defensive ability, it is only a matter of time before he’s able to impact the Revolution in a positive way on the pitch.
Photo Credit: New England Revolution and Ryan Leung