You cannot blame Jordan Graye if his head is still spinning a little bit. The 23-year-old has spent most of his life – and his soccer career – on the east coast, from youth soccer with the D.C. United Academy to college soccer at the University of North Carolina to his first professional season with D.C.
So being selected by the Portland Timbers in the MLS Expansion Draft Nov. 24, then being traded to Houston a few weeks later was sure to leave him feeling a little unsettled.
“Everything’s been up in the air,” Graye said from his native Washington, D.C. “I haven’t gotten too settled on a team, because I didn’t know where I was doing to end up. I was playing it by ear, but it looks like Houston is where I’m going to end up, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Graye spent five years at North Carolina, redshirting the 2006 season, and played with Corey Ashe, Tyler Deric, and Dynamo Academy product Alex Dixon. So when informed of the impending trade to Houston, he had good sources to quickly request a scouting report.
“I already talked to Corey a little bit, and he’s excited too,” Graye said. “I’m glad to be going to Houston, because I think this is a better opportunity for me to play. I want to start.”
Graye began his college career as an outside midfielder but saw time at outside back in his redshirt sophomore season of 2007. He became a regular starter at the back for the Tar Heels in 2008, helping UNC to back-to-back appearances at the NCAA College Cup in 2008 and 2009.
Drafted by D.C. United in the fourth round of last year’s MLS SuperDraft, Graye found himself in the starting lineup much of the season. Starting as a rookie, however, was not all roses, as D.C. struggled to a 20-loss season and a league-worst -26 goal differential.
“I played in a lot of games last year, and I got a lot of experience for a younger player,” Graye said. “I played a lot of the season for D.C., and we went through a lot of adversity because we were losing.”
Graye was in the lineup for five of D.C. United’s six wins, including road wins at Toronto and Colorado near the end of the year, and said he felt the squad learned a lot and improved by the end of the season.
“I feel like we got some things together, and each player took it upon himself to figure out what it takes to win in this league,” Graye said. “I learned a lot last season, and I’m trying to bring it to Houston.”