April 17, 2006
As temperatures dipped into the low 30s last Saturday, Adam Williamson looked onto the Meadowlands field during the Major League Soccer game between the New England Revolution and the host New York Red Bulls and saw his future.
''Just to be able to see the guys and knowing that I'll be on the field practicing with the team, hopefully getting on the roster, I can't put the feeling into words,'' said Williamson, wearing a blue Nike warm-up jacket while trying to stay warm at the end of the first half of what would be a scoreless tie.
Williamson is the speedy senior midfielder for Lehigh University who will graduate with a degree in accounting next month. He was drafted by the Revolution in the third round of the supplemental draft in January and was at the Meadowlands in civilian clothes to get a first-hand look at his new teammates.
The Patriot League offensive player of the year for 2005, Williamson was told by the club to finish his degree before reporting for full-time duty. As such, he was scheduled to play in a ''reserves'' game against the Red Bulls on Sunday, but a sprained ankle suffered during workouts at Lehigh last Thursday put an end to that hope.
''It's funny,'' he admitted. ''I've never really gotten hurt in college. I got hurt my junior year in the Patriot League championship game, but I've never been hurt at the beginning of a game and had to miss time.
''Now, I get hurt two days before I get to go up [to the professional level]. They're saying three weeks, but it feels pretty good right now.''
Williamson, whose injured ankle was encased in a walking boot, got to witness a highlight-filled evening at Giants Stadium. The Red Bulls, formerly the MetroStars, honored their past in a pregame ceremony that also included honoring former members of the New York Cosmos. Franz Beckenbauer and Pele were the final two players called to midfield in that joyous celebration. Singers Wyclef Jean and Shakira performed at halftime.
But Williamson was more concerned with the Revs, who won the Eastern Conference last season before losing to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2005 MLS Cup. And, despite being hobbled, he could not help picturing himself on the field.
''Just knowing that those are my teammates,'' he said of the Revs players. ''You see those types of guys, like [Taylor] Twellman and [Clint] Dempsey and [Pat] Noonan and [Steve] Ralston who got called up [by the U.S. national team] for the Jamaican game on Tuesday. It's really exciting to see them as members of your team.''
Williamson should make a good team member. He scored 12 goals and 15 assists during his career at Lehigh, earned All-Patriot League honors twice and made first team All-Region in 2004.
''When I was a fan, I would just watch games to see the score,'' he said. ''Now, when I'll most likely be playing outside midfield, I'll look at Ralston and [Joe] Franchino and see where they're moving, what they're doing, how quickly they're moving the ball.''
Williamson's sprained ankle put a definite crimp in the weekend. He stayed at the team hotel on Saturday night, met his future teammates and the coaching staff, and had a team meal. Not being able to play in the reserves game last Sunday, however, was a disappointing blow.
''I just can't wait to find myself on the field with the team,'' he said.