Billy Schuler, welcome to the Earthquakes.
The former North Carolina All-American, who played the past two seasons with Hammarby IF in Sweden, has been impressive in his first training camp with the Earthquakes, giving Coach Mark Watson another attacking option.
The Earthquakes landed the 23-year-old Schuler by winning a weighted draft lottery in January. Schuler has looked comfortable on and off the ball in San Jose.
“It’s going well,” the New Jersey native said before the team headed off to Portland for the Rose City Invitational.
“I’m kind of through that stage of getting to know everyone, especially on and off the field. It’s been good so far. Training’s been pretty hard, so it’s kind of just getting our fitness in. We’ll get our legs under us as the season comes closer.”
Watson describes Schuler as a “very good player” who has a good feel for the game and how to get on the ball.
“I’ve been really impressed with him,” Watson said. “He’s someone that’s fit in really well with the group, scored some good goals, and he’s another one that’s in contention for spots.”
Schuler’s new teammates also like what they’ve seen so far.
“I think he’s a good player,” target forward Alan Gordon said. “I really think he’s gonna help us out. He adds a little different dynamic than Lenny (Steven Lenhart) and I give. It’s gonna be up to the coaches to see where they see him contributing, but he will be a piece that will be played this year.”
Thrilled to find himself on a veteran-laden and welcoming squad, Schuler reflected on his choice to head to Hammarby, a second division club in Stockholm, after a prolific college career.
“I had a couple of options coming out of college, and I chose to go overseas and play at Hammarby in Sweden. It was a great challenge for me,” he said. “The soccer was good as well. It was a really cool city. I met a lot of cool people. I had a good time over there. I think I progressed as a player a lot, had a lot of experience. Obviously, maybe I was out of sight a little bit from the players in the U.S., and stuff like that, and the coaches, maybe. But I thought it was a really good experience and, obviously, when my time came to come back to the MLS, it was something that I really wanted to do. San Jose was a team that went in for me, and so I ended up here.”
Schuler scored two goals in 26 appearances in two seasons in Sweden. He also played for Hammarby's developmental team, Nacka FF. Before that, Schuler led North Carolina to a 2011 national championship, finishing with 29 goals and 15 assists over three seasons with UNC.
Schuler believes he “definitely” made the right choice going to the Swedish club with ties to the United States.
“It was very difficult to turn down and not come to the MLS because they had a lot of interest in me, but I don’t regret it at all,” he said.
He’s getting the best of both worlds with the Earthquakes, being surrounded by proven MLS veterans as they all vie for playing time.
“It’s great,” Schuler said. “You have both of that. You’re around guys that have been in the league and have had success in the league. You come to that, and you want to learn from that and see what they do, how they’re playing, and how they’re finding success, but at the same time it’s almost unspoken that you’re competing against each other. You're competing for time. You kind of have both of that, so it makes you better in both worlds.”
- Richter Media