Toronto FC's Ty Harden holds off Montreal Impact's Andrew Wenger, April 7, 2012.
Getty Images

No. 1 pick Wenger joins Impact full-time after graduating

MONTREAL – For three months, Andrew Wenger played soccer with the Montreal Impact on a part-time basis. The rest, quite literally, was history.

The first-overall pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft had warned the Impact that he wanted to complete his history degree at Duke University before committing full-time to his new professional club. That didn't stop Montreal from selecting the 2011 Hermann Trophy winner, who played center back and forward for the Blue Devils.

Now, the time for the rookie to transition into life as a full-fledged professional player has finally come.

“I can finally just try to get a little rhythm, keep things together and keep them moving every day,” Wenger (above right) told, “because it was a little hard, training well a couple of days, then leaving and coming back. There’s continuation now.”

WATCH: Wenger opens his MLS scoring account

Despite the fact that Wenger had to split his time between Québec and Durham, N.C., it was a decision the Impact front office actually welcomed. They saw in Wenger a grounded young man gifted not only with natural sporting abilities, but also with the human qualities needed to get through a most unusual start to his MLS career.

While the Impact’s No. 33 would not go as far as to say being away from the team hampered his progress, he said he recognized that in spite of some good times – including scoring his first MLS goal against rivals Toronto FC while term papers were awaiting at Duke – it certainly did not help.

“I definitely think I put together a couple of good performances here and there when I was available to play,” Wenger said. “I’m still trying to improve myself every day. It’s three months that I may have lost, but in the big scheme of things, I’m glad that I have my degree. I just have to keep working hard in order to make up time.”

With eight mostly successful appearances as a substitute for the Impact so far – half of which lasted at least 20 minutes – it appears Wenger’s work has been paying off.

At 21 years old, Wenger is now living the dream of playing the game he loves full-time. And though leaving college and everything it entails is usually a bittersweet moment for anyone his age, Wenger’s opinion on the matter is striking in its simplicity and maturity.

“I think any time you’re a college student, it’s a special time in everyone’s life,” Wenger admitted. “I enjoyed my three years, but it’s time to move on and be a grown-up.”

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.