Fucito Hopes To Make Noise with Seattle Sounders

Senior striker works toward MLS contract

Argentina Air
Alina A Hooper

Pictured here competing on Ohiri Field, senior Michael Fucito should enjoy the playing conditions a bit more in Buenos Aires. In the South American sun, the striker looks to make an impression on his new team during the Sounders’ nine-day trip. The team o

Like most members of the Harvard senior class, Michael Fucito is currently trying to get a job for next year. But instead of interviews with recruiters, his audition involves playing soccer in Argentina. His potential employers: not Google or Goldman Sachs, but rather, the Seattle Sounders—a Major League Soccer expansion team.

Yesterday, Fucito flew to Buenos Aires with the hopes of impressing the MLS club enough over the nine-day training trip to receive a contract.

Seattle drafted the Westford, Mass. native with their first selection of the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft (46th overall) on January 15. Fucito became the fourth Crimson player chosen since the MLS draft’s inception in 1996. He was one of two Ivy League players drafted.

Being drafted was no surprise for Fucito, who was named to the NSCAA/Adidas All-America second team for the second year in a row. The striker’s 32 goals and 24 assists put him in fourth in both categories on the Crimson’s all-time list.

And accolades came almost as often as the goals during his Harvard career. Fucito was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2004 for his performance in his freshman season. After missing the 2005 season, Fucito gathered All-Ivy first team honors in all three of the following years. His junior and senior seasons, he was named to the Academic All-Ivy League team. His final season in a Crimson uniform also saw him named a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.

Even with this impressive resume, Fucito’s draft position was likely hurt by the fact that he had been unable to participate in the MLS Player Combine just a few days before due to injury.

Fucito could be forgiven had he been slightly disappointed after falling in the draft and then getting selected by an expansion team based across the country.

But Fucito seems to be embracing the idea of playing in Seattle.

“It was definitely a little off the radar for him,” senior midfielder John Stamatis says. “But I think going at all in the draft is a very big deal. You’ve clearly shown something to someone.”

Not only was Fucito’s dream of being drafted realized, but the fact that he was selected by an expansion team could increase his chances of making the team’s roster and receiving a contract.

“More and more I’ve been finding things out about Seattle, and I’ve gotten more and more excited,” he says. “I think it gives me an opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact.”

It probably doesn’t hurt knowing that he could be taking shooting drills on American goalkeeping legend Kasey Keller or participating in position drills alongside Swedish great Freddie Ljungberg. The two international stars have played for English giants Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, respectively, and each player has captained his country.

“It’s very cool to wear the same uniform and share a locker room with guys like that,” Fucito says. “The whole experience for me has been amazing.”

Fucito flew out to Washington last week and has spent the last few days with the team. However, the hamstring tear that kept him out of the combine has also kept him off the field so far. He now hopes to be cleared to play in the three exhibition games that the Sounders have scheduled in Buenos Aires.

Unfortunately for the senior, staying healthy has always been a problem. Despite the enormous impact he did have, injuries plagued his collegiate career.

“The kid was two-time second team All-American when never really healthy,” laughs junior Andre Akpan, Harvard’s new co-captain. “Now he’s finally getting his chance and I think he can do a lot of damage.”

Perhaps nobody knows what Fucito brings to the table better than his striking partner. The two forwards were named the “Most Exciting Combination” in Division I Men’s Soccer by College Soccer News, and Akpan attributes much of the team’s success to Fucito.

“He’s got two things that are tough to find,” Akpan notes. “He’s left-footed and he’s extremely fast.”

Fucito was employed in a variety of positions playing for Harvard, and his versatility could prove a very useful asset for the Sounders. Fucito can certainly play up front—either on his own or just behind a target man like Akpan—and his incredible speed also allows him to be very effective on the left wing.

“He is one of the best guys I’ve seen in one-one-one situations with defenders,” Stamatis says. “He really turns his speed into production.”

With his natural skills apparent to all, the only question is whether Fucito can stay on the field.

But Stamatis notes one other trait that he feels will carry Fucito to professional success and help him to overcome any adversity he might face.

“He is a very driven kid,” Stamatis says. “The surgery he had April was supposed to keep him out for five to six months, but he was back playing in the summer after only three.”

“It’s going to come down to if I am fit,” Fucito says. “If I’m healthy I think I do belong here. They drafted me for a reason, so now it’s just down to me performing in Argentina.”

—Staff writer Jay M. Cohen can be reached at jaycohen@fas.harvard.edu.