We all have to start somewhere. For STLFC forward, Seth Rudolph, it was Saint Louis Scott Gallagher in Illinois. A product of Belleville, IL, Rudolph played for SLSG Metro in the first two seasons of the US Development Academy and was a member of the Central Conference Starting XI in 2009 after scoring 19 goals in his final season with the SLSG Metro US Development Academy.
The 5-7 forward played professionally in Sweden and decided to come back to where he grew up, now playing professionally for Saint Louis FC.
"Playing for SLSG was a great experience. When I played there I had Dale [Schilly] and Blake Decker as coaches. They're both great coaches and have vast knowledge about the game. I learned and developed a lot playing under them. I wouldn't be playing professional if I hadn't played for SLSG."
"Youth clubs producing talent is evident as the hometown Saint Louis FC acquired Sam Fink in 2015 and AJ Cochran earlier this year. "It's definitely a positive for the clubs. If a club is able to produce professional players, often times it shows they have a quality coaching staff. Clubs with good coaching staffs are able to help develop better players which tend to give them a better chance at becoming a productive professional."
Big moments only come along a few times in a player's career. For Rudolph, it was donning the green kit and beating rival SLSG Missouri side as a youth player. "My biggest moment was either beating the Missouri side and scoring against them, or scoring against the u17 national team. It's always nice scoring against a rival."
Rudolph's success at the youth level carried over to his collegiate career at George Washington University, donning a blue and gold kit. As a sophomore, Rudolph was selected to the A-10 Second Team All-Conference starting all 18 matches and finished second in conference with 10 goals.
As an upperclassmen, Rudolph's game escalated as he was named to the A-10 First Team All- Conference leading the conference with five game-winning goals and averaging over one point per game in his junior year. As a senior, he served as co-captain and ranks seventh all-time at George Washington with 29 career goals.
At the end of the day, professional sports is a business, and when Rudolph weighed his options and chose to sign a professional contract overseas with Sandvikens IF of the Swedish Football Association.
"When I finished playing my last season at GW, I was at a bit of a crossroads. I was fortunate enough to have a friend and former GW teammate playing in Sweden at the time. I reached out to him and received a trial with his team. The rest is history."With the COPA America Centenario finishing up, and the UEFA Euro 2016 ongoing, fans receive an inside look at the diversity of styles across the world.
"There's always high work ethic and team camaraderie. Everyone has a team first mentality. The speed of play in Sweden is a bit slower. You have a lot of ball movement from left to right, as opposed to the U.S. having a faster more physical game."
Culture is always a subject of discussion around international athletes and adjusting to the lifestyle according to their situation, but Rudolph explained he didn't mind the adjustment. "I would say culturally the biggest difference would have to be either the transportation or size of living quarters. In Sweden, public transportation is abundantly used. Buses and trains are very common. The average house in America would be a very expensive house in Sweden. Houses tend to be much smaller in comparison."
"While it's a different culture, I'd say one of the biggest similarities is the love of pizza. That has to be my go-to."
After signing earlier in April to the team located just across the river, Rudolph has already made an impact on the attack front. "My best STLFC moment would have to be my first professional start in America. I was able to score, but ultimately we got the three points. The environment was electrifying."
The goal Rudolph talked about, was a 28 yard shot into the upper-90 just under the bar, making the USL's Instagram page as a, "Goal of the Year Candidate" on June 11th. With being named to the USL Team of the Week earlier this year, the future is bright for the kid from across the Mississippi.
Saint Louis FC has reached the midpoint of the seaosn in a playoff position. With 9 home matches remaining they will need the city behind them as they hit the playoff stretch. For more information go to SaintLouisFC.com or call 636-680-0997.