Tristan Trager, selected by Atlanta United in the second round of Tuesday’s MLS draft, said he hopes to join the team as soon as June after he graduates from the Air Force Academy.
Trager said he is going to meet with the athletic department Thursday in hopes of pursuing a program that allows graduates to play professional sports while still maintaining active duty.
“That’s just a hurdle I’m going to have to face, not being able to graduate until May and just the strict guidelines that go along with going to service academy,” Trager said.
Trager may be worth the wait.
A former member of the L.A. Galaxy academy, Trager was recruited by Wisconsin and Air Force. He said the Falcons showed the most interest, and after he visited the campus he loved it.
He would go on to score 27 goals with 13 assists for the Falcons. He was named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year after scoring 11 goals with six assists as a senior.
Most of that production came in his final three seasons.
After a freshman season in which he gained some confidence from time spent with the varsity, Trager said he began working out, adding muscle and gaining speed. With some seniors leaving, Trager said the sophomores decided to make the team theirs.
He came in as a winger. After the seniors graduated, he moved to attacking midfielder. He said he also can play striker or central midfielder. He’s also played outside back.
The profile of Trager, as well as first-round pick Erik Centeno, may sound similar to the team’s past picks: attacking players who are versatile enough to be used anywhere. Julian Gressel, Jon Gallagher, Gordon Wild and Aiden McFadden are past selections made by the team who would go on to play a variety of positions for the senior team or Atlanta United 2.
“You know, obviously the draft was amazing, but that’s just like a just a moment in time and obviously there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done to be able to contribute to the team and be able to accomplish goals with the team,” he said. “So I expect there to be definitely a jump from the college level. But I’m excited to kind of elevate my game and play around better players that have like similar mindset.”
Trager said he enjoys watching attacking players who also have pace, such as Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
“I love collecting the ball and turning and driving forward,” Trager said. “I think I’ve got pretty good pace on dribbling and also I think just speaks for itself, but I just love scoring goals.”
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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule
Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1
March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1
March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN
April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN
April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN
May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX
May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
June 19 vs Miami, 4 p.m., ESPN2
June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC
July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1
July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
August 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC
August 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE
August 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
August 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1
August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV
August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX
Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas
Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas
Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE
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