DAVE STONE/THE EAGLE
Former AU soccer captain Sal Caccavale was drafted into Major League Soccer last Thursday when he was selected by Red Bull New York. His selection marks the fifth time in the past six years that an Eagle was chosen to play soccer at the professional level.
The West Islip, N.Y., senior was the Red Bull’s second pick in the league’s supplemental draft. Taken 19th overall, he joined first-round pick Randi Patterson from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and fourth-rounder Danny Cepero from the University of Pennsylvania.
“I was overcome with joy,” Caccavale said. “All the years of hard work had finally paid off. Ever since I was 10 years old, I’ve wanted to play professional soccer, so to come to this is pretty cool.”
The New Jersey-based team, which plays its home games at Giants Stadium, first generated interest in Caccavale during his freshman season at a game against the University of Virginia when he caught the eye of UVA assistant coach Richie Williams, now an assistant coach for the Red Bulls.
Caccavale was also being scouted by local team DC United, but was unexpectedly picked up by New York, which is coached by national soccer great Bruce Arena. In addition to his duties with the Red Bulls, Arena has also served as the head coach for the U.S. World Cup team for the past 10 years.
“To be picked up by [Arena’s] team, that’s one thing being said right there,” Caccavale said. “I’m just looking forward to it and going to enjoy this experience.”
With training camp starting at the end of the month, Caccavale said that he would be taking a leave of absence from AU to join the team. The Red Bulls will spend two weeks in Bradenton, Fla., as well as Orlando, Fla., before heading out to train in Los Angeles at the Home Depot Center at the beginning of March.
“It’s very exciting and hopefully, I’ll be a part of the team and get to play - that’s the next step,” Caccavale said. “It’s not over because to make the team is one thing, but now I want a spot; I want to play.”
Caccavale’s selection follows a successful 2006 campaign at American in which he was picked for the NCSAA Second-Team All Mid-Atlantic squad and also named to the First-Team All Patriot League team for the third straight year. Caccavale completed his four-year career with the Eagles as the seventh all-time leading scorer in the program’s history.
“It’s a great moment for both me and the soccer program here at AU because recruits now can say ‘This kid got drafted, so they’re obviously doing something right at this program,’” said Caccavale,
Caccavale plans to one day finish his degree and has shown interest in a future career with AU Athletics, a program he looks back upon with fondness and appreciation.
“I loved my time here at AU and it was definitely the best four years of my life,” he said. “I would love to one day come back and work for the athletics program and help them because they helped me get ready for this next step.”