Tanner Tessmann left FC Dallas to take the next step of his soccer journey earlier this month with Serie A newcomers Venezia, and in an interview the Italian club published on its website Thursday, the central midfielder reflected back on his time with MLS and the Texas-based club, where he went from a homegrown to coveted transfer target.
"I don’t think I really understood what my dreams and goals were until I went to FC Dallas," he said. "When I was 12 or 13, I didn’t know what MLS was. I didn’t know Dallas had a team. I didn’t know anything. I was playing soccer and wanted to reach the highest level, obviously, as every kid does, but I didn’t understand what it meant to do that. When I went to FC Dallas and I was surrounded by people chasing the same thing as me, it only made me see things clearer. By 14 or 15, I started to believe it would happen."
In the interview, Tessmann recounted coming to Dallas at 14 and developing in the club's fabled academy for four years before facing an important crossroads moment: Whether to stay in the FC Dallas system to develop as a pro soccer player, or to pursue an offer from Clemson University to play both football (as a kicker) and soccer.
But on the cusp of going to Clemson, Tessmann signed with FC Dallas in the move that sprung him to Serie A. As he put it regarding his decision to pick FCD, "It was what I was working toward for four years, and it was a dream come true, so it was impossible to not sign the contract and pursue my professional career."
Tessmann also acknowledged being in Serie A would help him develop his game, which could contribute to his national team aspirations. He earned his first US men's national team cap in a 7-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago back in January, then was part of the U-23 team's bid to qualify for the Olympics.
"A lot of Americans want to get to Europe and play in the top five leagues in the world, so when the opportunity came, I had to take it," he noted. "This is the moment Venezia got promoted to Serie A and it’s a moment in my career when I’m ready to take the next step and try to reach my full potential. Venice is a beautiful city, the people are amazing, the food is amazing. When it all worked out, it was perfect for both parties."
Venezia's season in Serie A – their first since 2000 – begins Aug. 22 with a trip to perennial powers Napoli, though their competitions will commence with a Coppa Italia first-round match hosting SPAL on Aug. 15.
You can read more about Tessmann's time in Italy so far on the Venezia website.