From Kenya to New Hampshire and now San Jose, Siad Haji's journey to MLS

Siad Haji learned soccer from his dad, the English language from “PBS Kids.” As for his dream of playing professionally? That was realized on Friday afternoon when the 19-year-old winger was selected second overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft by the San Jose Earthquakes.

“To me, it’s a blessing,” Haji said after being drafted. “Two or three years ago, I did not know I’d be in this position. Being able to have my name called right now is just amazing and I’m just excited for this opportunity.”

Haji’s journey started at a refugee camp in Kenya, where he was born after his parents fled war-torn Somalia. In 2004, they moved to New Hampshire in search of the American dream.

“They love me unconditionally obviously and for me, I use that as motivation,” the Generation adidas signing said. “It’s been a journey, not just for soccer, but coming to the States without knowing any English and I feel like that always being the drive for me.”

Haji would watch Spanish legend Andres Iniesta, admiring his “awareness” and ability to know spacing. He also made that part of his game.

Haji’s professional aspirations started when he was selected for US youth teams, starting with the U-15 before also playing for U-17 and U-19. He went onto play Division I soccer for Virginia Commonwealth University as well as for the Portland Timbers Premier Development League squad.

“It helped me to be more competitive, to play faster and I think it played a big role in my journey,” Haji said.

What can Haji bring the Quakes and new coach Matias Almeyda?

“I’d say working hard and being a playmaker, just bringing positive energy to the team,” Haji said. “I’m ready for the new city, ready to work hard.”

Haji knows it’s not going to be easy. But that’s not new to him.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready for the pressure,” Haji said. “I’m ready for everything.”