Published: January 5, 2012
Former U17 Men's National Team and Creighton left back Tyler Polak has signed a Generation adidas contract with Major League Soccer and will be entered in the league's draft next Friday in Kansas City.
Polak, a Lincoln, Nebraska native who also will participate in the MLS Combine this weekend in Florida, left Creighton after two standout seasons with the Blue Jays.
He said the decision to leave school and enter the professional ranks now was not a difficult one.
"We had a good season and went to the final 4, and after talking with my family and my coach at the end of the season, we just felt it was time to go," the 19-year-old said. "I'm excited and nervous. I have a lot of mixed emotions. It's going to be hard, but it should be a lot of fun."
Polak had done well at the 2009 FIFA U17 World Cup and attracted interest from clubs in Germany, but ultimately decided to enter school at Creighton, where he was majoring in graphic design. He said he thinks he is the better for his two years of college soccer.
"I think it's helped out," Polak said. "I've had different coaches coach me (Jamie Clark and then Elmar Bolowich). They've had different perspectives on the game and it's helped me to get both of those. My teammates have been supportive so I think it was a good move."
Polak said he intends to finish his degree, either through online courses or by re-enrolling at the end of his playing career (the GA deal included an educational component).
MLS only offers GA deals to players who have been tabbed by league teams as someone they'd like to sign. Polak will be evaluated in this weekend's Combine and then likely is a first-round draft choice at next week's MLS Draft in Kansas City, held in conjunction with the NSCAA Convention (TopDrawerSoccer.com will have full coverage).
Polak played club soccer for Capital Soccer Asssociation in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was identified initially through U.S. Youth Soccer's Olympic Development Program, where he was a standout for the Region II (Midwest) team. He was then selected to enter Bradenton Residency with the U17 Men's National Team by then head coach John Hackworth. He went on to excel under Wilmer Cabrera at the 2009 World Cup in Nigeria.
Polak said he doesn't feel any added pressure as an ambassador for a state not known for sending a lot of players on to soccer stardom.
"I don't feel any weight, I feel more support. I feel like the whole state and my previous team, have my back, so it's more of a lift. I'm not sure how many (Nebraskans) will be watching (the draft). Soccer is not too big here."
Polak is best known as a left back who gets forward well, so he may be considered for a left midfield or wing role in MLS.