Local soccer player makes MLS Next team

Hunter Freeny pulled off field and offered a spot by coaches
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Hunter Freeny has had one goal his entire life, and that’s to play professional soccer. He started playing when he was just three years old and spends hours a day with a ball at his feet, whether he is at the field, at home, or even on vacation in the Bahamas.

Freeny just traveled to Birmingham earlier this month to try out for the Hoover-Vestavia MLS Next team along with 90 other players.

With many of them already on the MLS Next 2 team, his chances were slim, but he went for it anyway. Freeny is a center-attacking mid. He showcased his vision to see and create plays at every angle and the maturity level at which he competes. In doing so, the gamble paid off.

On night one, he was the only to be pulled off the field by several coaches and offered a spot.

“Like yeah, I’ll do it. It wasn’t even a second thought. It was amazing. I’ve been playing since I was three. It’s a long time and this is basically what I’ve been trying to get to.”

This season, Freeny will compete against MLS Academy players from across the country. This opportunity will put him in front of scouts, professional MLS coaches, top colleges, and European League scouts, increasing his chances of playing professionally from less than 1% to 5%.

It’s a chance to progress and gain exposure in a highly competitive sport, but there will be sacrifices. This is the summer before his senior year and MLS Next is a year-round commitment with practices in Birmingham four times a week and games on weekends. He won’t take part in the activities of a normal high school senior, but Freeny took that into account when he made this decision.

“Sacrifices. you can’t go out with friends every night every weekend like you want to. You have to put hours and hours into training. It’s like any other kid going out to the beach. It’s just fun.”

While other kids are at the beach this summer, Hunter will be practicing Monday through Thursday in Birmingham with games every weekend all over the U.S. and he wouldn’t have it any other way.