In 2006, Blake Wagner was committed to an NCAA Division I career at the University of Maryland, but when the opportunity arose to join Major League Soccer's Generation adidas program, those plans quickly changed.
"School can wait,” said a young Wagner at the time. "but becoming a soccer player is something I’ve always dreamed of."
That decision paid off when the Tampa, Florida, native was drafted 18th overall by FC Dallas in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. Wagner, though, found out how hard he would have to work to maintain a career in MLS.
"I was so young, being 18," Wagner said in November. "Most guys are going to college, but I had to start being a true professional and it hits you real quick. You see how many good players are out there and it humbles you and makes you realize how hard you have to work to be a great player."
As a young Generation adidas player, Wagner counted on more senior members of the team to aid him in his transition to professional soccer. "When I first came to FC Dallas, there were guys like Greg Vanney, Ronnie O’Brien, and Richard Mulrooney," Wagner said. “Those guys were veterans and top quality players and it was good for me to learn from guys like that.”
Wagner spent four seasons in Dallas before parting ways with the club in 2009. The 5-foot-10 defender/midfielder joined Whitecaps FC in the USSF D-2 Pro League last season and made 16 appearances with the team. He scored four goals during the campaign, including a hat-trick against Miami FC at Swangard Stadium on July 14.
Naturally left footed, Wagner has shown his versatility. He’s played left wing, as well as left fullback, and earned his contract with consistent performances during preseason. Whichever position he plays, you can count on Wagner to get forward and create good scoring opportunities with his accurate crosses.
At 23 years of age, Wagner is one of a handful of players on the team with MLS experience, and now he can pass on his knowledge to his young teammates - such as Generation adidas players Omar Salgado and Michael Nanchoff - to help them adapt to life as a professional soccer player.