SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — A lifelong dream came true for Thomas McCabe of South Orange last month when he was taken 29th overall by FC Cincinnati in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
“Being drafted was definitely an incredible moment and a culmination of the sacrifices my family made for me and the hard work I put in along the way,” McCabe said. “It certainly validated the decisions I made from an early age to get to this point.”
McCabe, who has played soccer competitively since the age of 5, even dedicated a line in his 2010 Oak Knoll Elementary School yearbook entry to his future aspiration as a professional soccer player.
“I started playing soccer pretty much since I could walk and kick a ball around the house,” the midfielder said of his passion, which culminated in the draft on Jan. 11. He was officially signed by FC Cincinnati on Feb. 6.
McCabe played competitively at Oak Knoll and, later, as a freshman at Delbarton School, before he eventually moved to Florida to attend IMG Academy to play for a youth national camp. There, he played for the U-17 Men’s National Team in the FIFA World Cup in Chile at age 15, competing with and against players from across the globe, some of whom had already signed professional contracts. His soccer journey then continued at the University of Notre Dame, where he was named Third Team All-ACC and played in more than 60 games for the Fighting Irish.
McCabe points to his father, Thomas McCabe, as one of his early soccer influences, as the elder McCabe played goalkeeper at Princeton University and was an assistant coach at Saint Benedict’s Prep in Newark during his son’s formative years.
“I would always hang around the team and their practices,” he said. “That everyday exposure to soccer and sharing it with my dad is where I first fell in love with the game and the beginning of soccer being such a big part of my life.”
McCabe called the professional experience so far “eye-opening,” and he’s already learned a great deal at Cincinnati.
“The club, its staff and players have been very welcoming to me and helped me adjust and settle into my new life as a professional,” he said. “I have tried to soak it all in and learn as much as I can from those guys.”