Arnone and Grinwis working toward continuing soccer careers

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By Wesley Roman, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 19, 2014

The end of the Michigan men’s soccer team’s season may have signaled the conclusion of distinguished Michigan careers for goalkeeper Adam Grinwis and midfielder Tyler Arnone, but, if it all goes to script, the duo’s soccer careers will just be starting.

Over the next few weeks, the two fifth-year seniors will embark on the difficult journey to become professional soccer players.

Both players prefer to remain in the United States — whether that be in Major League Soccer (MLS) or the North American Soccer League (NASL) — but going abroad to one of the many leagues in Europe also remains an option.

“I’d prefer the MLS because I follow the league, and obviously I love living and playing here in the U.S.,” Arnone said. “But I’m not opposed to going abroad.”

It surely will be a difficult process to start, but they’ve been laying the foundation for the past four years.

* * *

Grinwis and Arnone began their Michigan soccer careers together — as sophomores. Both redshirted their freshman years — Arnone transferred in from St. John’s — but when they finally began playing in 2011, they made instant impacts.

From the first game, Arnone was installed as a starter in the center of the midfield, and he thrived in his first season in Ann Arbor. The Hicksville, New York native started all 20 matches, scored twice and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

Meanwhile, Grinwis also fought his way into a major role and emerged as the Wolverines’ first-choice goalkeeper, a title he would not relinquish for the next three years.

From there, their roles only grew. Arnone and Grinwis totaled 75 and 68 caps, respectively, in their Michigan careers, and each received multiple post-season awards. Being four-year starters, the two also served as important leaders, and eventually captains, for the Wolverines.

“I’d like to think that I helped bridge the gap for the new guys coming in to try and teach them the ways of the University of Michigan,” Grinwis said, “while also trying to be a good player for (Michigan coach Chaka Daley).”

Though the team as a whole didn’t match their individual successes — the duo didn’t win one regular- or post-season trophy — the program now seems poised for future success. It seems likely that better recruits and more time under Daley will lead to the creation of a perennial contender in Ann Arbor.

“Even though we didn’t win any trophies while I was here,” Arnone said, “I think we were the building blocks of something special.”

* * *

MLS scouts view college soccer performances and accomplishments as an important part of a résumé, but there are other factors to consider.

To increase exposure, both Arnone and Grinwis have trained with MLS teams for the past few summers. These opportunities have proven invaluable for both the players and the MLS teams, which can see firsthand how they measured up.

The duo was confident that its technical abilities were up to par, but pointed to the speed of the game as something that would take some time to get used to.

“I think it was a huge chance to see if it was actually something that is feasible for me,” Grinwis said. “I truly felt like I fit in, and I feel like I can really help out some of these teams.”

Getting up to speed has meant sacrificing what could have been their postseason break. Even with the early winter weather, on most days you can find the Grinwis and Arnone working together in some capacity to get better physically and technically.

“(We’re) getting together almost every day, whether it be in the weight room, the snowy field or wherever,” Grinwis said. “All we’re trying to do is maintain what we’ve been working on the past six months so we’re fresh and ready to go when the time comes.”

* * *

All of this work is building up to Jan. 15, the date of the MLS SuperDraft.

But before then is a major stepping-stone: the MLS Combine. This invite-only event takes place a week before the draft and represents an excellent chance to make a statement to the many scouts in attendance. Invitations are sent out shortly after the NCAA National Championship Game, which takes place Dec. 14.

Arnone thinks that, regardless of whether he receives an invitation, he has something special to offer to MLS teams.

“Some players focus mostly on attacking or defending,” Arnone said. “But I think I have a little something of both in my locker.”

Even if they aren’t invited, they’ll have Michigan’s success in the MLS SuperDraft to keep them positive. The Wolverines have seen at least one player drafted in five of the last seven years, and four of those players are still in the league.

If the MLS doesn’t work out for the two, then they’ll turn their attentions to either the NASL if they want to remain domestically, or abroad.

But until they are told otherwise, the duo will continue working as hard as they can to make their dream a reality.

And just like the past four years, they’ll be working together.