Defender Josh Smith is used to traveling, but he is ready to make the northeast his home after signing for the New England Revolution in February.
Born in Fort Polk, Louisiana, the 6-foot-4 defender grew up in Germany, where he eventually played for the U17 and U19 teams of Karlsruher SC. Smith decided to return Stateside to play college soccer, and after years of playing on west coast, he has embarked on his first professional season with the Revolution, who selected him in the Fourth Round of the 2017 Major League Soccer SuperDraft in January.
A former member of the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, the 25-year-old appears to be settling into his new club nicely – despite receiving some flak for being the rookie.
“I must say, Kei Kamara always gives me a hard time,” Smith told USLPDL.com. “Nah, the guys are great. It’s normal; you come in and play against players like Kei, who has been overseas in England, or Chris Tierney, who has been here with the club for over eight years, or Kelyn Rowe … it’s normal for a college kid to adjust, but players are going to push me to the next level, and I’m thankful for the locker room.”
For the past four seasons, Smith has been living and playing on the west coast. Collegiately, the defender competed for the University of San Francisco, while he also took part in the PDL from 2014-16.
In 2014, he suited up for the San Jose Earthquakes U23 and scored two goals in 11 games (1,080 minutes). The following two years, he played for Burlingame Dragons FC – which affiliated with MLS club San Jose Earthquakes beginning in 2015. In his two PDL campaigns with Burlingame, Smith scored one goal in 23 games (2,070 minutes), helping the team claim the Southwest Division title in 2015 and record back-to-back PDL Playoffs berths.
“I think it was a great platform,” Smith said of the PDL. “I played with a lot of players that got drafted to MLS or play in the USL today. Many great friends, many great experiences and good competition.
“My end goal was to get drafted by an MLS team here in the United States, and I knew that the PDL was the path to pro for most players that get drafted – they have PDL experience. I knew that was something I wanted to do.”
As a member of Burlingame, Smith took part in many important matches throughout his PDL career, which has given him invaluable experience as he looks to make his mark at the next level with the Revolution.
“I think the PDL is a great platform for young players and college players to develop and make that jump to the next level,” Smith said. “It gave me more experience. I played in Fresno in Chukchansi Park in front of 9,000 people – great competition, a lot of good players. Experience helps you develop as a young player.”
Smith knows that minutes on the field are crucial to improve as a player, which is why he is looking forward to competing with the Revolution in 2017.
“I have a great locker room here at the organization, and so coming in day-to-day, working hard and improving [are what I’m looking forward to],” Smith said. “I want to keep improving; I don’t want to set a limit. I want to learn from experienced guys in the locker room.
“I think it’s an organization that wants to be at the top level, wants to win the title, and I want to be in an environment like that – that holds you accountable and brings top-notch players in and grow.”
Smith’s path to the professional game, which started across the Atlantic and continued across the U.S., has led him to New England. While hard work for playing time lies ahead, Smith is determined to make it with the Revolution.
“I don’t think there’s challenges,” Smith said. “I think there’s an opportunity to grow. I think this league is becoming one of the best in the world, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”