Three years ago, Michael Seaton told his mom that he would become a professional soccer player at age 16. He then wrote this prediction down and placed that scrap of paper under his pillow. A little over eight months after his 16th birthday, Seaton did just that, becoming D.C. United’s fifth Homegrown player signing. Bill Hamid, Andy Najar, Conor Shanosky and Ethan White are the four former United Academy players – all still with the club – who preceded Seaton along this professional path.
“It makes me very confident,” Seaton shared, when asked about the club’s penchant for giving young players opportunities to play. “[I’m] kind of like ready to work because I’m going in knowing that my coach has a lot of confidence in me, in the game when he’s ready to put me in. And I have to show up.”
Hailing from Spanish Town, Jamaica and growing up in Capitol Heights, Md., the youngster holds dual citizenship between Jamaica and the United States. Seaton first made his mark with the Black-and-Red as the U-15 Pre-Academy’s leading scorer (12 goals). Seaton would go on to be the co-leading scorer on the U-16’s (14 goals), guiding the team to a final eight finish in the playoffs. But it was an eye-opening trip to his native Jamaica that led Seaton to re-focus his energies on building character, in addition to improving his play.
“When I was down there, I just saw the struggle to do something that you love,” said Seaton. “I went down and I saw that I had it great – I had it good – in my life because a majority of them are not going to have the same life I have. I had that opportunity [to come to the U.S.], so I just had to grasp that opportunity and make something out of it.”
With this newfound perspective, the U-17 Jamaican international set out to not only cultivate his own soccer talent, but to also make a difference in the lives around him through sport.
“Growing up poor, it gave me this energy to make other people’s lives better, like my mom and my little brother,” Seaton said. “I want him to go to school and just have a different life than me. I want his life to be way better than mine – my life is fine, but I want his life to be better. So. I want him to have a role model, which is me.”
Despite Seaton’s hunch from three years ago proving to be correct, the reality of becoming a pro at age 16 remains surreal. Players – such as United captain Dwayne De Rosario – that Seaton watched while growing up will become teammates. They will go through drills with each other, sit in the locker room together and share many inside jokes. All of these newfound realities still feel dreamlike to Seaton.
“I remember going into the meeting [with Ben Olsen and Dave Kasper], I almost fainted! I couldn’t believe it, like I almost fainted,” said Seaton. “So, say I sit next to DeRo on a plane? I’m going to be speechless. But I think I can learn a lot from him. That’s what the coaches told me. He might pick on me at one point, but at the same time, he’ll look out for me.”