Ryan Richter's physical endurance impressed Union coaches enough to earn a contract.
Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

Rookie Richter living the dream at Philadelphia

First, it was J.T. Noone. Then, it was Ryan Richter.

The lesson: If you’re a star college soccer player in Philadelphia, you will get an opportunity to play for your city’s professional team.

One season after undrafted Temple University product Noone signed with the Union, ex-La Salle star Richter was a surprise addition to the Philly squad.

Selected by the Union in the first round of the Supplemental Draft, Richter impressed the Philly coaches with his fitness level, beating out a few established MLS players to make the team when rosters were announced on March 1.

“As a young player, everyone wants to play for their hometown team – that’s the dream,” said Pat Farrell, Richter’s college coach at La Salle. “Ryan pretty much set himself up to live that dream.”

For Richter, that's exactly what signing with the Union represents.

“Everything about it is a dream come true,” Richter told PhiladelphiaUnion.com. “Staying in Philadelphia, playing in front of my family, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

"This was my goal since I started playing, so I have a lot of emotions, but it can’t be the end,” he added. “Being signed is just one thing I want to accomplish. Now I’m ready to move forward and hopefully just keep getting better and try to make an impact.”

Ironically, the announcement of Richter’s signing came on the same day Noone was waived by the club, which only goes to show how fickle dreams can be. But even though Noone didn’t see any official action during his short stay in Philly, his signing was still one of the feel-good stories of the 2010 season.

“Believe me, I know who J.T. Noone is,” said Farrell, who coached against the midfielder for four seasons. “He’s a very, very good player. He has a good chance to surface somewhere.”

[inline_node:326783]Though Noone was the only Temple alum on an MLS roster last season, Richter is the first La Salle grad to be drafted by an MLS club since Cesidio Colasante was picked by the MetroStars in 1997.

Richter, though, did what Colasante did not — make his team. The signing did not come as much of a surprise for Farrell, who has been playing and coaching at La Salle since 1971 and has seen few players as dedicated to the game as Richter.

“One of the things Ryan did was come early and stay after practice,” said Farrell, the Explorers’ head coach since 1987. “Through the summer, he’d come down to school and continue to work out, and he had the discipline and commitment to do it. He already had a high athletic baseline but he became bigger, stronger and quicker, and really improved his endurance level.”

And while it was his league-leading 14 goals this past season for La Salle that got Richter drafted, it was his high level of endurance that helped him remain in what was a highly competitive Union camp.

Now, Farrell believes Richter’s road to the Union will help all Philadelphia college soccer teams recruit as it gives local kids the hope that they, too, can play professionally for their hometown team.

“The Union in Philly is a tremendous thing,” said Farrell, who remembers watching the last three Philly professional soccer teams – the Spartans, the Atoms and the Fury. “It’s created a lot of excitement and has rejuvenated the game in the area.

“I believe it gives young players something to strive for. They’ll have the opportunity if they’re willing to put in the time and effort.”