Justin Haak is a 17-year old Brooklyn native who just signed his first professional contract with NYCFC. I know Justin personally and I played on the same team with him in 2014-15. “It’s hard to describe,” Haak said “You dream about it almost your whole life and then when it actually comes – you almost can’t believe it. When NYCFC was first announced, I knew I wanted to play for the professional team in my own city that I’ve grown up in. It was an amazing chance for me and I just wanted to be a part of it.” Haak has always had a natural talent for the game, what separates him was how hard he worked. There are millions of talented soccer players just like Justin, however most Americans in this position don’t commit 100% to the game. When I was on the same team with him we started practice at around 8-8:30PM. Justin would get to the field at 4, and start working out, doing push-ups, sit-ups, running, and practicing with the ball. Our coach at the time, Hugo Guzman, was an undercover NYCFC scout who picked up Haak after closely working with him. Haak was sent to NYCFC’s U15 academy team. Much like baseball has the minors, the academy programs that every professional club offers is a select group of players in which the pro team chooses to develop through the years physically, mentally, tactfully, and skillfully until they reach the right age for the club to provide a contract. Most kids who are taken into these academy programs are cut before ever making it to the next year. Justin was special, in that he got through 3-4 years with the academy and got called up. During his years in the academy, he ultimately helped win the Generation adidas Cup in 2017 and the USDA National Championship in 2018. He’s been capped at the international level with the U.S. U-18s and helped them win the International Youth Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in the Czech Republic last August. Justin attended the NYCFC preseason camp last year and impressed in friendly matches vs. LA Galaxy and Atlético San Luis. Justin continued to train with the first team regularly through 2018-19. I wish Justin the best in his career and hopefully he will have lots of success during his time at NYCFC.