EDITORIAL – Of all the domestic signings of this MLS offseason, Michael Edwards might have the most interesting journey to signings an MLS Homegrown contract. Originally from Northern Virginia, he left the D.C. United Academy as a teenager to join the VfL Wolfsburg academy. He signed for the Colorado Rapids on March 4 and this week was loaned to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the USL Championship.
The Michael Edwards Journey From Germany to Colorado
Edwards recently spoke to Last Word while in Tucson, AZ. in preseason with the Rapids.
D.C. United Academy:
His first big decision came at 18-years-old. There was an opportunity with Wolfsburg while he was still at the D.C. United academy, which hey joined as a U-14 player. He was midway through his senior in high school and college soccer was on the horizon.
“I could have stuck around in D.C. or take the college route with my parents at first, they really wanted me to they wanted me to go to college and start my degree and maybe just go for a year and then and then try and go pro. But I wanted to take that challenge of going to Europe and seeing what that would be like,” Edwards told Last Word on Soccer.
He is now starting his degree online for the record.
Edwards joined the very competitive Wolfsburg Under-19 team partway through the 2018-19 season.
“We had a very good team, made it to the Under-19 German National Semifinal game. We lost to Stuttgart, but that was a really good year for me. I spent about five weeks in with the first team in pre-season. Then I went up with the U-23s from the U-19s, played matches with them throughout the year.”
Edwards spent the 2018-19 season and 2020-21 (until joining Colorado) with the U-23s in the Regionalliga, the fourth division. It proved to be a good challenge:
“When you look at like the smaller clubs, that’s when you come across a really big and strong and just competitive grown men. You see smaller guys, but guys who are good, technically and tactically, they’re not always the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but they’re quality players.”
Edwards grew on and off the field living on his own in a foreign country. He learned a new language, learned what it takes to be a professional, and got a dog. (His brindle American Bulldog Kodak will becoming to Colorado).
“I was there for two and a half years. It went really well. No regrets.”
Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks:
Edwards signed for the Rapids in early March after the club acquired his Homegrown rights for $75,000 in GAM. His desire to compete beyond academy level competition drew him to MLS and the Rapids.
“My goals are to learn as much as I can, not only from the guys in my position, but guys all on the team in every position, hopefully make my debut super excited for that moment, get minutes under my belt.”
Edwards has now been loaned down to the Switchbacks to start the season. While that’s technically not first team football, it’s a step towards it. He should be able to win a starting spot in the USL. That should set him up to compete for the Rapids next year. He wouldn’t be the first Rapids player to benefit from a full year starting in the second division.
The Michael Edwards journey is just getting started.