Christian Schneider (Shelton, Conn.) has played for three teams at the third division level since graduating from Springfield College in 2019.
Now, Schneider has joined the Maryland Bobcats, and he is preparing for a breakout year when the National Independent Soccer Association season opens next month.
"Keeping the motivation is a new challenge, almost," Schneider said recently. "Last year, in San Diego, in a three-month season I made my mark. I started in two-thirds of the games, played all but one (15 out of 16 games), had a good showing. But I feel like this is a full-on, 10-month professional season and it is an opportunity to show my ability throughout the whole year, create connections, and make the jump into the USL."
Getting a foothold in the pro ranks can be difficult coming from an NCAA Division 3 program, and Schneider has been patient and persistent. He has seen how former Springfield defender Ryan Malone (Chicopee, Mass.) made his way in Germany, reaching the Second Bundesliga with Hansa Rostock at age 29 this season.