Although Jay Alberts ’04 has seen the last of his playing days at Yale, he is not about to hang up his shinguards and cleats just yet.
On Jan. 16, the Kansas City Wizards selected Alberts with the 37th overall pick, in the fourth round of the 2004 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” Alberts said. “It really hasn’t settled in. It’s always been something I’ve dreamed of. I get the chance to get paid for something I love to do.”
Wizards players report for physicals Feb. 2 before traveling to Tampa and Portugal to prepare for the 2004 season.
Alberts will be invited to camp and placed on an expanded preseason roster, which will then be narrowed for the start of the regular season later this spring, Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. Players who do not make the official roster will be either reassigned to a developmental league or dismissed.
“Obviously we’re all thrilled that he was selected,” Tompkins said. “He’s proven that he’s a high-quality soccer player at the collegiate, high school and club levels. It’s nice recognition for him.”
Recognition is nothing new for Alberts. Over the course of his Yale career, Alberts’ speed and toughness earned him a reputation as one of the most prominent scorers in the league.
“Obviously that’s a big deal, for him and for the program,” recently elected captain Ryan Raybould ’05 said. “It’s a testament to the program to be able to produce a player like Jay.”
This fall, Alberts tied for the team lead in goals with five and was second in points with 11. He finished his tenure at Yale second in career assists with 22 and fifth in points with 62.
“He’s got the physical gifts — the quickness, the agility and the acceleration,” Tompkins said. “He’s also very powerful for someone with that size frame. Perhaps as important is his tenacity and extreme competitiveness. He’s got a never-say-die mentality. He’s absolutely fearless, absolutely tireless.”
Alberts has been integral to the team’s success in recent years, perhaps most evidently at the start of the 2002 season.
Ill with mononucleosis, Alberts was forced to sit out the entire 2001 season after leading the Bulldogs to the second round of the NCAA tournament the year before. In his absence, the Elis struggled to a 6-9-2 record and a last-place finish in the Ivy League.
“I don’t know how much of that had to do with not having Jay,” forward Justin Burton ’04 said. “But it was definitely a part of it.”
Alberts returned the following September for the 2002 season opener against defending national champion University of North Carolina. The 5’8″ midfielder wasted little time letting his team know just how much it had missed him. In the 15th minute, Alberts crossed the ball to Burton, who drilled a shot into the back of the net to put Yale up, 1-0. Alberts assisted Burton on a second goal 15 minutes later as the Bulldogs went on to defeat the Tar Heels, 2-1.
It was the beginning of another stellar fall for Alberts, who finished top in the Ivy League in assists, and collected his second of four first team All-Ivy honors. While his Ivy days are over, come this spring, Alberts will be vying for a spot on a team in another league.
“Jay’s a very good player,” Burton said. “He’s smart and makes great plays on the ball, and even when he doesn’t have the ball, you have to know where he is on the field. I think he has a real chance of making an impact at the next level.”
Alberts was one of five Ivy League players selected in this year’s MLS SuperDraft. The others are Harvard’s Kevin Ara, Brown’s Adom Crew, Cornell’s Ian Pilarski and Penn’s Matt Haefner.