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MLS Combine

Centerback Callum Montgomery ready for MLS SuperDraft after years operating under the radar

Tajon Buchannan (right) and Callum Montgomery (left) battle for the ball during the MLS Player Combine at Orlando City Stadium. (Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports)

Callum Montgomery knows what it feels like to be passed on.

He didn’t come through an academy and ended up going to college for four years – and he says he needed every one of those years at UNC Charlotte to develop into the centerback he is today.

“I came from a small town in British Columbia,” he said. “Definitely, you know, soccer opportunities weren’t as extensive as probably some of the other guys [in the SuperDraft]. Didn’t come through an academy system or anything like that. Didn’t have a lot of success at a young age with high-level teams. Never got invited to Canada national team or those types of things.

“I’m really just a get my head down and go to work type of guy. I think that’s my personality. I’m a hard worker. I set my goals and I become obsessed with trying to achieve them.”

He likely won’t have to deal with getting passed on for much longer. Montgomery is projected by many mock drafts to be a top-five pick in Friday’s SuperDraft in Chicago, and was called the top centerback in the draft by MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle.

He doesn’t have a dream team he wants to be drafted by – he just wants a club that’s willing to invest in him.

“That’s what they say, but until I hear my name called… it’s great to have my name tossed out there, but I try to just live in the moment as much as I can,” Montgomery said. “It’s easy to get caught up in all the external media things and stuff like that, but I think it’s important just to make sure that every session you’re showing up and playing well.”

Montgomery, 21, transitioned from center-mid to centerback while in college.

“Physically, athletically, I needed to put the time in in the weight room and I needed to get used to the level,” he said. “I think I needed those four years to really develop me into the player I am today.

“I needed those four years just to really mature into the position and mature into my body, as well.”

Montgomery said he’s going to have to get used to the mental aspect of playing in MLS. The players are faster, stronger and more tactically sound that the ones he faced in college, which means he’s going to have to react quickly to new situations.

Luckily, Montomgery considers himself a cerebral player. A bio major in college and the son of doctors, he’s taken a clinical approach to soccer in an attempt to find an edge over his peers.

“I work hard, and you’ve got to figure out different ways to improve yourself,” he said. “You can’t physically be playing soccer all the time because your body needs time to recover. So then how I can get better at soccer? How can I become a better player if I’m not playing?

“Maybe it’s watching video. Maybe it’s reading about other ways to recover better or eat better to beet juice to give you that extra edge or different supplements and stuff like that. I think it’s really important to have an idea of everything because there’s so many different aspects of soccer. As I said, you can’t be playing every single minute. You need to have those recovery times, you can only put in so many hours in a day.”

He said becoming a doctor crossed his mind, but he’s fully devoted to his soccer career.

“I’m really interested in how the body works,” he said. “How it moves, how it recovers. I think it’s been helpful to my soccer career, because I’ll research things like that. How can I apply this to my soccer? How can I become a better player? I use that.

“I love soccer. I want to play as long as I can. It’s a pretty special situation that I’m in and I’m pretty fortunate to be here.”

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