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Michigan Bucks' Francis de Vries

08/02/2016, 1:45pm EDT
By AARON CRANFORD - aaron.cranford@uslsoccer.com

MAC Hermann Watchlist defender looks to earn second PDL title with Bucks


Photo by Michigan Bucks

One game away from securing his second PDL title with the Michigan Bucks, Francis de Vries has his sights set on a professional career in the States.

The defender was named to the 2016 Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watchlist for a second consecutive year, and he is currently helping the Michigan Bucks’ attempt at claiming a second PDL title in three years. The 21-year-old scored his first goal of the 2016 campaign during the team’s 3-0 win over Midland/Odessa Sockers FC in the PDL National Semifinals.

De Vries and the Bucks will host Calgary Foothills FC in the PDL Championship at 7:30 p.m. ET from the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Michigan, on Saturday. While De Vries’ focus will be on the task at hand, namely helping the Central Conference Championship winners win the PDL crown, he is also looking to use this season’s experience as a jumping off point to future success.

“If I can have a good senior year at Saint Francis and hopefully strike out in the pros somewhere, I’m hoping to play for the [New Zealand] national team one day,” De Vries said. “Everybody wants to play for the country they were born in and the country they feel pride in being from. I have a lot of pride in New Zealand, and I hope to one day make the national team and help them out in whatever way I can.”

“If I can have a good senior year at Saint Francis and hopefully strike out in the pros somewhere, I’m hoping to play for the [New Zealand] national team one day,” De Vries said. “Everybody wants to play for the country they were born in and the country they feel pride in being from. I have a lot of pride in New Zealand, and I hope to one day make the national team and help them out in whatever way I can.”

Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, De Vries played for club team Canterbury United growing up. He was a part of the Dragons when the team won the 2011 New Zealand ASB Premiership Youth League title, and he also spent some time in Europe before deciding to move over to the United States.

“Since my parents are from Switzerland and Holland, we used to go over to Switzerland quite a lot to see my family, and one time I was over there, I got a trial with FC Basel,” De Vries said. “They invited me back some time, and when I was 17, my academy sent me over there to see if I could get anything, and I ended up signing on with their Under-18s for six months. Then it came to the stage where we’d go to reserves and things would get serious about professional football, and they cut me.

“I saw my best avenue of continuing to chase my dream of being a professional soccer player as coming to America. Thinking back on it, I’m really happy that I got cut because it gave me the capability to be a better person, get an education, set the rest of my life up by being over here in America.”

De Vries has excelled in his time at Saint Francis, earning National Soccer Coaches' Association of America All-American honors in 2014 and 2015. The two-time Northeast Conference Defender of the Year has scored 12 goals and provided five assists in 59 appearances during his college career.

Wanting to enhance his experience and increase his chances to go pro Stateside, De Vries looked for opportunities to build his soccer resume and found an avenue with the Bucks in the PDL.

“I found out about the PDL through guys at school, and when I was first at Saint Francis, normally, guys wouldn’t really participate in the PDL because it’s a bit of a smaller DI school; not everyone was that serious about playing soccer,” De Vries said. “But I guess I came at a time when the culture was changing, and some more guys were becoming serious about playing professionally, and I was serious too.”

De Vries, who trained with Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC in 2015, has a chance at winning his second PDL Championship in three years with the Bucks. Looking to the future, De Vries hopes his strong season in the PDL, combined with another successful college campaign, parlays him into the professional player.

“This year, I was actually injured for the first month and a half of the summer,” De Vries said. “When I came back from my injury, I worked my way back into fitness, and as I got back into fitness, it was a crucial time of the year for the Bucks. I decided I would stay here and help the team and give something back to the people that have been good to me the past three years.

“This is my third year here now,” De Vries continued. “They’ve treated me really well, and I’m really glad I picked Michigan and am in the PDL because it’s a fantastic league. There’s a lot of good players, and I really enjoy going to training every day and meeting all of these guys from different colleges. They push me a lot to try and improve my level.”

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