NPSL Veteran Sees Opportunity in MLS Combine

Gamebreaker.  Record-setter.  Pioneer.  Future pro.  Award-winner.

Those are just a few words to describe Western Michigan University midfielder Brandon Bye, an NPSL veteran that has spent three seasons with the likes of Grand Rapids FC, Kalamazoo FC, and Minneapolis City SC.

The Portage, Michigan native is the first WMU player to be selected for the MLS Combine, and if drafted, would be the first WMU alum to play in MLS.

Getting an invite to the combine was clearly a special thing.

“It’s a surreal moment,” Bye said. “I have thought of playing pro since I was eight years old.  The fact that I went to a university that put me in a great position means that playing pro is a realistic goal.  At the combine I will go out and have fun and work hard.”

Bye spent the 2017 NPSL season in Minneapolis and made quite an impact with the Crows.

“When we were presented with the opportunity to bring Brandon into our team last summer we knew we had a special talent joining us both on and off the field,” Minneapolis City SC Sporting Director Jon Bisswurm added. “His accolades during his final year in college only confirm that. We are excited for him as a player to be given the chance to showcase his exception talent for our country’s top league teams and his potential to be selected in the draft speak highly of the type of players that our league provides a proving ground for in the sport.”

Minneapolis City SC Head Coach Adam Pribyl agreed that the club had something special in Bye.

“Brandon approached us since he was in town for a summer internship. We looked into his background and we saw how impressive he was, and his college coach had nothing but great things to say about him. His reputation certainly preceded him. From the moment I met Brandon I knew he was a special kind of player. He had raw power and pace, but he was very intelligent and finesse. Not only that, he was a great guy with a really good head on his shoulders. He raised the level of play at Minneapolis City and had an impact on our club, while only being with us for a short time.”

Bye enjoyed his time with Minneapolis City.

“Once I started practicing there, I fit in right away,” Bye added. “It was a good experience.  They were great, inviting.  They made me one of their own.”

Bye was a key player for Kalamazoo as well, scoring four goals during the 2016 NPSL season.  Lumumba Shabazz, coach of Kalamazoo FC in 2016 and 2017, was very impressed.

“Brandon is an exceptional young man and player.  He contributed a lot to our early success with Kalamazoo FC and there is no doubt that he will continue to shine on the national stage.”

Mike Garrett, Owner of Kalamazoo FC, echoed those same sentiments.

“When I formed Kalamazoo FC, one of our primary goals was to provide opportunities for our best local talent to continue to train and develop.  Brandon is an outstanding young man, who has exceptional athleticism and is a local player who I have known personally since he was eight years old.  Fantastic to see him doing so well, setting an example for other local players to emulate and we wish him the best with his next step.”

All in all, the NPSL experience was a huge positive for Bye.

“It was great to stay fresh and sharp,” Bye continued. “I was able to keep my touch, have fun, and play with different guys.  It was an opportunity to see the game differently.”

Bye also left a major imprint on the WMU record books, finishing fourth in single-season goals (12), sixth in career goals (22), tied for first in single-season game-winning goals (5), second in career game-winning goals (8), fourth in single-season points (31), fourth in career points (63), first in single-season shots (91), and first in career shots (213).

With stats like that, it should come as no surprise that the awards have flowed for Bye.  In 2017, he was a Hermann Trophy semifinalist, the United Soccer Coaches Division I National Scholar Player of the Year, United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American, College Soccer News First Team All-American, United Soccer Coaches Academic All-American, CoSIDA Third Team Academic All-American, MAC Player of the Year, First Team All-MAC, CoSIDA Academic All-District, United Soccer Coaches First Team All-Region, United Soccer Coaches Academic All-Region, MAC Player of the Week, and College Soccer News National Player of the Week.  An impressive list of awards to say the least, but that was just one season.  In total, Bye received 22 awards during his distinguished career as a Bronco.

Western Michigan Head Coach Chad Wiseman clearly enjoyed having Bye as part of his program.

“Brandon has had one of the best careers in Bronco Soccer history. He’s an exceptional talent, not only on the field, but in the classroom and throughout our community. He’s left an incredible legacy within our soccer program and university. To be named National Scholar Men’s Soccer Player of the Year is the highest accolade any student-athlete could receive, and there is nobody more deserving than Brandon. This season Brandon has drawn a lot of interest from different MLS franchises. Being invited to the MLS Combine will give him an opportunity to showcase his skill set in front of all the scouts, head coaches, and general managers. He is a unique talent, and I’m sure everyone will be watching him closely.”

2017 was truly a magical year for the entire WMU squad as the team went undefeated in the MAC, won its first playoff game, and made the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.  Bye stated that the season “set a new standard, set the bar” for future WMU seasons.  He imagined that future players will want to be as good as the 2017 squad.

Bye is a dynamic player that is known for his versatility, fitness, and pace.  He has played as a right back, right wing back, right winger, and a center forward to name just a few.

Off the field Bye is just as impressive.  He is a double major in Food Marketing and Supply Chain Management and has spent two summers as an intern with Kellogg’s.

Simply put, Brandon Bye has a bright future in soccer and business.  If the past is any indication, we can expect even bigger things from Bye.

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