Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies U23
Many players would likely call it quits after suffering a second torn meniscus in less than a year, but Florida Gulf Coast talent Arion Sobers-Assue is not like most players.
Born in Miami, Florida, Sobers-Assue started playing soccer at the age of seven, citing his mother as the catalyst.
“She said she put me in soccer because I was always so energetic, and she didn’t know what to do with me,” Sobers-Assue told USLPDL.com. “She thought soccer would make me have less energy and stop me from running around the house.”
The decision only fueled that energy, as Sobers-Assue excelled on the field and developed into a talented goal scorer.
At the age of 15, he moved to Maryland to live with his dad. The forward continued to shine at DeMatha Catholic High School, where he received numerous accolades in the two years he competed. He also played for Olney Rangers – an elite club travel team that features alumni such as Arsenal F.C. talent Gedion Zelalem.
In the winter of 2013, Sobers-Assue attended the Disney Soccer Showcase in Orlando, and Florida Gulf Coast was there watching. The college took notice of his abilities and started to recruit him soon after. Liking the challenge of helping an “under-the-radar” and “underrated” program, Sobers-Assue decided to attend the university in January.
He continued to show off his talent that fall and was a key player for the Eagles during his freshman campaign, appearing in 15 games while scoring one goal and providing one assist. Toward the end of the 2014 season, however, the forward suffered the first major setback in his life – a torn meniscus in his left knee.
“I had never had a serious injury like that, so after that first one, I was fine,” Sobers-Assue said. “I didn’t think it would ever happen again, so I can get through it – through the five-seven months.”
But it did happen again – a few months later.
“I was kind of mad,” Sobers-Assue said. “I had just come back two months before that, so for it to happen again, and for me to be out another seven months, was hard. I had a lot of the FCGU staff and coaches, players and friends push me to get through it, and I knew that if I had the opportunity to play – I knew I was a good player – I just wasn’t healthy. I knew that once the opportunity came, I would get healthy and keep pushing.”
Sobers-Assue utilized his redshirt season in 2015 and returned to the game in the spring ready to compete once again. Unlike in years past, though, the forward joined the Premier Development League in the summer to gain fitness and develop.
“Last year, I played eight games and scored three goals, and it gave me a lot of confidence going into the fall,” the forward said. “When I was in preseason this past fall after coming off of playing in the PDL, I felt great. I felt that I could do a lot of things on the field – it gave me a lot of confidence and felt it really helped in the way I played this past fall.”
The Eagles standout had a breakout year – his first full season for the program – scoring 11 goals and recording 11 assists during the 2016 college campaign. His 11 assists set a single-season program record, while he would have set more records if his teammate – Albert* Ruiz, who was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy – did not have a historic season himself. For his efforts, he earned first-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors.
Sobers-Assue wants to keep pushing, though. He has joined the Tampa Bay Rowdies U23 in the Southeast Division for the 2017 PDL regular season and is eager to make his mark on his path to the professional level.
“I treasure every moment I get to play soccer now,” he said, “because it could be gone in an instant.”
*This post has been updated.