Seabrook goes pro

Jordan Seabrook never doubted his ability, his talent or his success, but he sometimes questioned the direction in which he wanted to take his life.

He knows exactly where he’s going now, though.

Seabrook, a senior forward on the men’s soccer team last fall, was selected in the fourth round of the Major League Soccer draft Jan. 15 by the Colorado Rapids.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Seabrook said. “To get this opportunity — to have it in my hands — I mean, not everyone gets this chance. I really do appreciate the honor.”

Though some European soccer players nab multi-million dollar contracts, many MLS salaries fall below the poverty line, so financial stability was a critical concern for Seabrook as he weighed his options.

“I had a lot of doubts about what I wanted to do,” he said. “I mean, the money is public record, and I know a lot of guys that are great soccer players that are making $13,000 a year. I just wondered if it was really something I wanted to carry through with.”

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Indianapolis native received some useful advice from his father. Philip Seabrook, who saw his son develop into one of the best collegiate forwards in the country, said he encouraged him to do some soul-searching.

“I told my son this: Go with your heart, forget the money and play for the love of the game,” he said. “I remember watching him kick the ball around in the backyard as a kid … and to see him get this chance is almost something you can’t give up.”

Seabrook scored 31 goals in his four-year career at USF, led the Big East in scoring (14) in his freshman year and led the Bulls to their first Big East championship in soccer last fall.

“This is all well deserved on his part,” USF coach George Kiefer said. “He’s been our leading point scorer for four years, and he has a tremendous upside. I think he could be a good pro.”

Seabrook looks to carry his success at USF into the professional ranks.

FC Dallas’ Jeff Cunningham knows what it’s like to make that transition. Cunningham, a former South Florida standout, has spent 11 years in the league, won the 2006 MLS Golden Boot and has scored 104 goals in his professional career.

“It will be important for (Seabrook) to understand that the game is much faster in the pros,” Cunningham said. “The players are a lot quicker, are a lot stronger, but you have to come in with an attitude that you will compete.”

Seabrook said after fighting with himself about pursuing a major league career, something changed his perspective.

David Beckham, a current member of the Los Angeles Galaxy, came to the league in 2007.

“(Beckham) changed everything,” Seabrook said. “Years ago, teams were playing in football stadiums, but now there are bigger crowds, and it’s just made the league an attractive place to play.”

Colorado is in the Western Conference with the Galaxy, and the possibility of lining up next to one of the world’s most recognizable people is hard for Seabrook to believe.

“I’m not going to lie — I’d be starstruck,” Seabrook said. “I mean, Beckham — Beckham? That’d be awesome and it’d be nerve-racking. It’d be pretty tough to stay composed.”

The Rapids moved into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park — a $131 million, 18,000-capacity stadium — in 2007. Seabrook will report to rookie camp in Denver on Sunday and will negotiate a contract with his agent and the organization before March 1.

Seabrook, a journalism major, said he almost missed the news that the Rapids had selected him.

“It was actually a really funny story,” Seabrook joked. “I never answer my house phone, and we were expecting a call.

Apparently, they called the house a couple times, but no one got up to answer it. We actually found out by just watching the draft live on ESPN.”

At that moment, he called the Rapids to confirm the selection. Meanwhile, his father was in the other room, smiling.

“Jordan always said he wanted to play in the MLS,” Philip Seabrook said. “I think he understands that soccer can be big in this country.”

Seabrook said his teammates helped him last season.

“After all the doubt I had, things just changed for me, especially this year with the team at USF,” Seabrook said. “The team was so united, and it really brought my love and fire back for the game.”