17-year-old goalkeeper from Lincoln aiming to make U.S. National Team

Budler is a member of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, as part of its soccer academy. He's also received four invites to try out at U.S. National Team camps. 

LINCOLN – Most 17-year-old soccer players saw their seasons cut short in Nebraska due to COVID-19.

However, Mitch Budler isn’t like most 17-year-old soccer players.

The Lincolnite is considered to be one of the top young goalkeepers in the game. And he has an opportunity to make a splash nationally.

“Extreme goals,” Budler said. “You know, people would probably laugh at like making the world cup, signing with a professional team overseas eventually. But I think having those goals helps you, bring this work ethic out of you that helps you achieve something.”

Budler is a member of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, as part of its soccer academy. He’s also received four invites to try out at U.S. National Team camps.

“I think it just gave me an idea of what to expect and what I’m working toward,” Budler said.

But until the coronavirus allows tryouts to begin, Budler has been training at his home in Southeast Lincoln with his father and two siblings. They recently purchased a state-of-the-art machine to shoot balls at Budler at game speed. It’s the same type of machine used by professional goalkeepers across the world.

“It can go up to 80 miles per hour which is pretty crazy,” Budler said. “It kind of gives me a little step ahead of everybody else.”

Budler’s passion for soccer began at young age.

“It started when I was like three or four, trying to play at the YMCA.”

Budler played for the club team Sporting Lincoln before transferring down to Sporting Kansas City.

“Three hour drive there, three hour drive back,” Budler said. “Three times a week, which was really tough.”

Budler and his brother ended up at one of the top soccer programs in the Midwest, Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota. That’s where Budler first started to get noticed by Team USA scouts and the Philadelphia Union.

“I kind of just like, loved everything they said so I just went,” Budler said.

And if Budler wants to be the best, he knows he had to play with the best.

“If a kid has a passion for something, you should try and follow it as much as possible,” Budler said. “For me, this is all I’ve wanted to do for my entire life, for as long as I can. So I moved wherever I could play or wherever the best fit could be.”


Categories: High School Sports, Sports