From an invitation to join the academy as a pre-adolescent to training with the first team to scoring their new USL team’s first-ever goal to signing an MLS Homegrown Player contract, it’s been quite a ride for 16-year-old D.C. United attacker Griffin Yow. And he says he’s just getting started.

Yow recently sat down with to discuss his journey, and the childhood fan of the Black-and-Red explained how he’s experiencing one pinch-me moment after another lately.

“It was just surreal,” he confessed when describing when and how he got the news from his parents that United had offered him an HGP deal. “It was a dream come true, everything I had worked for throughout my whole life was finally becoming a reality, and I just didn’t even know what to say.

“As soon as I signed that first pro contract, it's a new beginning – it's just the start. Because obviously that's a great accomplishment, but I'd like to accomplish way more.”

A US youth international who began training with D.C.’s first team last year, Yow was presented with his first United jersey by none other than Wayne Rooney in the team’s locker room, which he called “just insane.”

The Clifton, Virginia, native will likely lead United’s Under-17 squad into Generation adidas Cup action in April, though he’s already turned heads at the senior level by netting the debut goal for new USL Championship team Loudoun United. He believes that signing with his hometown team has set him up for success in a way that other options could not.

“I have my whole family here, I have all my friends and so I’m really comfortable in the environment that I’m in, and also I’m kind of used to the guys that I’m now training with,” said Yow. “I feel like I’m just a step ahead than if I went to Europe or if I went to another MLS club, because I’m already comfortable in this environment.”