Ahead of the third annual USL Experience, hosted by Phoenix Rising FC, several alumni from the past two events take some time to recall their time in Cincinnati in 2016 and San Antonio in 2017.
Anthony Harding was selected to attend the inaugural USL Experience in Cincinnati in 2016 during a stellar PDL career that included time with Pittsburgh United and, more recently, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, and spoke with USLSoccer.com prior to that event. Harding was able to take valuable lessons from the USL Experience, such as working with new teammates and learning from multiple professional coaches, while making friends from other parts of the country.
Recently, Harding committed to playing collegiate soccer at Penn State in the Big Ten. One of the most competitive collegiate conferences, the valuable lessons learned by Harding at the USL Experience will help drive him to success at the NCAA Division I level.
The USL Experience provides top SYL players with some of the highest-level youth competition in the country while delivering a unique look into professional American soccer through the league’s relationship with the United Soccer Leagues, LLC, operators of the Division II USL, the new USL Division III, the Premier Development League and the SYL.
SYL: How did you enjoy competing in the Super Y League?
Anthony Harding: I played in the Super Y League before playing with the Riverhounds, with a team called Pittsburgh United. It was just a bunch of kids from all around Pittsburgh, and I loved the league so after that I left that club, I went to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. I loved it, all of the traveling and the amount of games you got to play.”
SYL: What was your favorite experience while playing in the SYL?
AH: “Probably being identified for the USL Experience. Definitely that and getting to go to Cincinnati, the level of play was just amazing and we got to meet all the pro players and everything, it was one of my favorite experiences ever.”
SYL: What did you most enjoy about playing with your SYL club specifically?
AH: “First of all, the Riverhounds’ training is top notch. We have some of the best coaches around this area and training four or five days per week, there’s no doubt that getting into college I’ll be technically sound and ready for Penn State. The coaches just know what they’re doing and they’re straight to the point.”
SYL: Players at the USL Experience get to participate in professional-level training, matches, interviews and more. What was your favorite part of the Experience?
AH: “My favorite part was just playing with such talented players and being coached by all of these different people, being scouted by national team and collegiate scouts. One of the kids I played with at the USL Experience, Lagos Kunga, is playing with Atlanta United now, and it’s crazy to look back two years ago and see that now he’s playing professionally. I still keep in contact with him, we talk every day.”
SYL: What was the most valuable lesson you learned at the USL Experience?
AH: “One of the biggest things I learned there was that it doesn’t matter where you come from or how good you are, it comes down to where you want to go in soccer and how much work you’re going to put into it.”
SYL: What are you most looking forward to while competing at Penn State?
AH: “Playing in the Big Ten, being one of the best conferences in college soccer, I’m going to need to come in ready to go, no slacking. I’m just excited to play there and just focus on soccer. I’ve got the whole town and the Riverhounds behind me, and I’ve just got to perform when I get there."