Matt Gutsch, Bears and Pandas Athletics
Shamit Shome is taking the road less traveled as he continues his journey of professional soccer development. The second-year University of Alberta engineering student, and Golden Bears alumnus, was drafted by the Montreal Impact in the second round of the 2017 Major League Soccer (MLS) SuperDraft on January 13, 2017.
Shome, who is from Edmonton, was taken 41stoverall by the Impact, and was one of five Canadians to be drafted into the MLS, which is North America’s top professional soccer league. He also becomes one of the very few Canadian university soccer players to be drafted into the MLS, and among the first from Edmonton.
“It was both exciting and nervous to be in the draft,” said Shome after being selected by the Impact. “Leaving home is always going to be tough, and the uncertainty of what club I would end up with was scary as well. But, it was exciting at the same time as it gave me the opportunity to step my game up to the next level. I'm proud to be one of the only Edmonton players to have received this opportunity, so I'm just hoping I represent all of the Edmonton community well. This will help me push my career to the next level and help develop my game that much more.”
Although this was the 18th SuperDraft in MLS history, this was the first year in which Canadian players were allowed to be drafted and counted as domestic players, rather than the traditional import designation they had received in the past. The import designation greatly limited how many opportunities were available for developing Canadian soccer players in North America, as MLS rosters have a cap on import players. Now that Canadians do not count against that cap, more Canadian soccer players will find their way into the league, which will benefit the growth of the sport within Canada.
The initiative to develop youth soccer for the pro ranks within the MLS was established in 1997, and has since become known as the Generation Adidas project, which is a joint venture between MLS and U.S. Soccer and Adidas. It is aimed at raising the level of young professional soccer talent, and in 2017, MLS introduced Canadian Generation Adidas players, which is part of a new initiative with the Canadian Soccer Association.
Shome played for the Golden Bears during the 2015-16 season where he started every game, tallied six goals in 12 Canada West matches and won the conference Rookie of the Year award. A product of the Edmonton Southwest United Soccer Club in Edmonton, Shome also trained in the FC Edmonton Academy before joining the Bears when he entered university as an engineering student. He also accomplished Academic All-Canadian status during his one season of play, which means he achieved at least 80% (or the equivalent) or higher in full-time classes while also competing full-time on a varsity team.
Following his one season as a Golden Bear, he joined the FC Edmonton pro team, which plays in the North American Soccer Leage (NASL), a step below MLS. He appeared in 28 total matches with FC Edmonton, including one playoff game. FC Edmonton sold his contract to MLS after the 2016-17 season, which allowed Shome to be eligible for the SuperDraft.
The midfielder also is no stranger to international play, having represented Canada at the U-18 and U-20 levels. He was the only Canadian university soccer player named to the national U-18 team in 2015, and has since progressed to be become the captain of the U-20 side, and was nominated for Canadian U-20 Player of the Year.
“Playing with the Golden Bears was a great experience for me in that it helped transition me from playing at the FC Edmonton academy level, to a more team-focused level,” noted Shome. “It was a great experience that really helped the physical aspect of my game and my speed of play. What I take away from my time as a Golden Bear is that you really need that team unity to be successful as a team. Playing with the Bears was probably one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, just because of how much of a team we were. I really enjoyed being around the guys on that team and still miss them to this day!”
On top of being a Canadian international youth soccer star, as well as playing professional soccer and formerly with the Golden Bears, Shome also has excelled in the classrooms of the U of A’s renowned Faculty of Engineering.
“Being in school has really helped keep me disciplined and focused,” added Shome. “I learned how to create and fall into an efficient routine where I was able to manage my time properly and accomplish everything I wanted to in terms of going to training; playing games while at the same time being able to complete my courses.”
In his one season with the Golden Bears, the team earned an 8-4 record in conference play, and finished second in the Canada West standings, but they were surprisingly defeated in the opening round of the 2015 playoffs. This past season, the Golden Bears finished first in the Canada West standings, and were regarded as one of the top teams in U SPORTS men’s soccer. They went on to win the Canada West title, going undefeated in conference playoffs, before claiming the national championship trophy as well.
“I've kept in touch with the Bears this past year,” said Shome. “I see the guys at the gym and on campus. I was so excited for them when I found out they won the national championship. I was actually live streaming the game while in Honduras for a national team camp, so that’s how connected I still am. It's really great to see how successful they were this season. From first-hand experience, I can truly say they deserved it all, and it's great for the Golden Bears soccer program and soccer in Edmonton as well.”
He now joins an Impact squad in the MLS that competes in the Eastern Conference and recorded an 11-11-12 record last season. The Impact are one of three Canadian teams in the MLS, along with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC, and in five seasons of MLS play, the club has made the playoffs three times. They have also won the Canadian Championship twice (2013 and 2014).
The 2017 MLS season begins March 3, with the Impact playing their season opener a day later in California against the San Jose Earthquakes. Shome and Montreal will play their 2017 home opener on March 11 when they take on the Seattle Sounders at Saputo Stadium.