Peter McGlynn still hasn’t seen the video recording of the incident that ended his college soccer career and profoundly altered his professional soccer path.
“I couldn’t put myself through that, to be honest,” McGlynn said last week. “I don’t really want to know. A lot of people have told me what it looks like, so I’ll just take their word for it.”
What the Oct. 28 footage looks like is this: McGlynn, a senior defender, and his UC Santa Barbara teammates have just suffered a devastating 2-1, golden-goal loss to UC Davis. With five defeats in six matches, the Gauchos are all but assured of missing the NCAA tournament, and coach Tim Vom Steeg vehemently argues with referee Reed Christy that a foul should have been called against UC Davis on the winning score.
Suddenly, McGlynn enters the frame from the left, extends both hands and shoves Christy in the back, knocking the official to the ground.
The aftermath is even uglier: campus police handcuffing McGlynn, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s office filing misdemeanor charges, UCSB kicking him off the squad, the dream of playing professional soccer rapidly receding in the distance.
In an instant, the 23-year-old Ireland native had gone from a potential attendee at the MLS pre-draft Combine and likely SuperDraft candidate to a soccer pariah.
That’s why he’s grabbed onto the lifeline thrown to him by the San Jose Earthquakes with both hands.
“I know it’s probably going to never go away, really,” McGlynn said of his notoriety. “It’s probably going to follow me around for the rest of my career, but I can deal with that.”
The Quakes were familiar enough with McGlynn – an offensive-minded right back in the same mold as San Jose incumbent Steven Beitashour – to select him last month in the fourth and final round of the MLS Supplemental Draft.
“I know I dropped off the radar a lot,” McGlynn said of the draft. “I kind of screwed myself over. I hadn’t really got high expectations. It’s kind of nice San Jose gave me a second chance, they thought I was worthwhile and I’m just happy to be here right now. I got my chance and I think I’ve made the most of it so far.”
San Jose general manager John Doyle said he had no trepidation picking McGlynn despite the incident.
“Not at all,” Doyle said. “I think it’s a mistake by somebody and it doesn’t define him as a player, his career or him. I mean, we also watched him for three years, and [he’s a] terrific player, so, no, we’re not worried about that.”
McGlynn still faces one misdemeanor count of battery against a sports official, which carries potential penalties of $2,000 and one year in jail. There have been multiple meetings this month between McGlynn’s lawyers and the DA’s office, but no resolution has been publicly announced. Calls this week to the deputy DA in charge of the case were not returned.
In the meantime, McGlynn has been trying to catch up with the speed of the professional game, fulfilling a lifelong dream to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Ken, who played professionally with top-flight Irish side Bohemian FC.
“It’s a big step up, definitely,” McGlynn said. “My first two days training after I got drafted, I kind of struggled a little bit. I just probably wasn’t used to it. I knew it would take a little bit of time to get used to it. But as soon as I got to Arizona [for a week-long stint in late January], I just felt a lot more comfortable.
“Since I was a kid, this is all I’ve wanted to do. I’ve worked hard, almost my whole life, just to get to this point now. Now this is where the hard work really starts. So I’m really excited.”