RICHMOND, VA (Via FC Richmond) – Although he is only 17 years old, FC Richmond’s Nick Taitague is playing soccer at the professional level, signing with the Carolina RailHawks of the North American Soccer League last month.
The highly sought after midfielder has been with the U.S. National Team program since he was 14 years old participating on the U14, U15, U16, U17 and, now U18 teams prior to joining the NASL-leading RailHawks.
“I’m thrilled to join such a great team and I’m looking forward to learning a lot as I progress as a player,” said Taitague, from the RailHawks training academy in Cary, North Carolina.
Taitague’s contract with the Carolina RailHawks allows an amateur to join the highest ranks of professional soccer in the US. Under USSF rules, he cannot sign a pro contract until he’s 18, which means he’ll have to wait almost a year before he can compete and receive compensation at the next level in Europe.
“We’ve always known that Nick was a special young man, on and off the field,” said his longtime coach and FC Richmond founder Dave Amsler.
RailHawks Manager Colin Clarke has played Taitague in three straight games, a rare accomplishment, considering no other amateur player has ever played in an NASL match. Clarke is equally impressed with the young player from Midlothian, Virginia.
“He’ll be playing at a high level in the future, probably in Europe,” says Clarke.
Taitague’s path to the highest levels of international soccer is a unique one. He stayed with home club FC Richmond long after he was identified by U.S. Soccer scouts at the age of 13. Bucking the trend of top tier players who primarily compete in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, Taitague has chosen to remain with the Midlothian-based program.
Taitague is the latest in a long line of U.S. National Team players to come from the FC Richmond program, but the first to play pro soccer as an amateur. He has also trained internationally with several prestigious academies – Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and FC Barcelona.