Some people might say Luke Brown is following in his father’s footsteps, but the Hofstra University talent is pioneering his own unique path to the professional level.
Brown’s father, Stuart Brown, played professionally for English club Luton Town F.C., and while he hopes for a similar end product – competing at the professional level – the forward chose to make a name for himself far away from Cambridgeshire.
“Growing up in England and playing there, it's very focused on just the soccer there and the professional leagues, but as I got older and spoke to more people, I realized playing in England wasn't the be-all and end-all,” Brown told USLPDL.com. “I heard about a few players who had decided to move from England to the U.S. for soccer and decided to look into it more myself.
“The idea and excitement of things like the draft and how college athletes can experience a kind of professional environment and training sounded great, so I attended a showcase where coaches came over from the U.S. to watch. That's where my assistant coach at Hofstra saw me play and it went pretty quick from there really. I spoke to a few colleges, but the coaches at Hofstra seemed the most keen to have me – which is a good feeling, so I quickly agreed to Hofstra, and before I knew it, I was there.”
Brown had an immediate impact on the program last fall. The freshman forward led the team in goals scored (8) and points (18). For his efforts, he was named 2016 Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, headlining the 2016 CAA Men’s Soccer All-Rookie Team.
Listening to the advice of his teammates, including Houston Dynamo and Rio Grande Valley FC midfielder Joe Holland, Brown decided to compete for the GPS Portland Phoenix in the 2017 Premier Development League regular season.
“[The PDL] has great history of players progressing to the next level, which is what I am hoping to do with some luck,” Brown said. “Seeing players from Hofstra leave and go on to play pro via the draft – who have all played PDL – made the decision even easier, as it gives you something to aspire to and shows you it really is achievable.
“When you love doing something, you want to do it as much as you can, so being able to play competitively all summer is great. What I've enjoyed most about the PDL is really just testing yourself against players you may not play against in your college season. The standard is a lot higher than I expected, so it's great to know every week you're going to have games that you really have to push yourself in to make sure you get the better of your opponent and score.”
And score Brown has.
The forward leads the Phoenix in goals scored (8) and assists (3) after only playing nine matches. His goal-scoring prowess caught the eyes of the USL Scouting Network, and he was subsequently ranked 48th on the third edition of the 2017 PDL Top Prospects list.
Despite his success, Brown is always trying to improve his game, and he calls upon a trusted source to provide him with advice – his father.
“He's really the main reason I got into soccer and still play now,” Brown said. “He's always telling me what I can do to improve and watches all of my games. If they're not streamed live, I try and send them home so he can watch and tell me how I've played. He always gives me great advice after a game. If he says I've played OK, then I know I've done well, but he's very critical which does help massively, and on the odd occasion he does praise me, I know I've done extremely well.
“At home, me and my brother practiced with him a lot and he'd always be showing us what we could do differently and how we could improve which helped us massively.”
With his father behind him, despite being miles away, Brown is excited to continue down his unique path.
“The best piece of advice he has ever given me and my brother relates to both soccer and off the field, which is, ‘Listen to everything everyone has to say and throw away what you don't need,’” he said. “He also says, ‘Once people stop trying to give you advice, that's when they don't care about what you're doing anymore, so listen to what everyone has to say and then judge yourself what you want to use from what they've said and what you don't need.’”