The path for Air Force senior Tucker Bone to chase his professional soccer dreams is almost cleared.
All that’s left is for the Air Force to agree with Major League Soccer’s assessment that Bone is among the nation’s elite and accept him into the World Class Athlete Program, which would expedite his professional career instead of potentially waiting a couple of years.
“Right now, that’s my only avenue,” Bone said over the phone Thursday, while waiting for Friday’s MLS SuperDraft in Chicago. “I’ve got a few options on the board where I can’t see the WCAP program not working out.”
Since the Falcons’ season ended in a Sweet 16 loss to Indiana, Bone has participated in a couple of combines, most recently the invite-only MLS event in Orlando, Fla.
“It was amazing. It was awesome,” Bone said. “It was one of the experiences I’ll remember for a lifetime.”
Bone’s 3.98 agility time was second among all contestants, and his play on the field impressed some analysts in attendance. Ives Galarcep, editor of the popular Soccer By Ives website, included Bone on a list of players who improved their draft stock.
“Bone is a talented midfielder but his Air Force commitment might make some teams pass on him,” Galarcep tweeted after the Air Force senior assisted a goal in a combine game Saturday. “Looks worth the time investment, he has 1st-round talent.”
Bone has been included in some mock drafts and left off others presumably because he’s still waiting for formal acceptance into the program that supports Air Force athletes training for the Olympics and other competitions.
“It’s become more of a reality that that’s something I can pursue now,” Bone said.
“I would be pretty disappointed or upset if something were to come up.”
The government shutdown won’t have any impact on his future, but the resignation of defense secretary James Mattis could, if his replacement has a more lax policy.
“The rule, as it stands right now, is essentially the most strict it’s been,” Bone said.
“It could only be changing for the better.”
As part of the combine, Bone interviewed with an estimated seven or eight teams. He said he was as transparent as possible when teams inquired about when he might be able to join a professional club.
“I felt pretty good about all of my interviews. I feel like that’s something the academy prepares you for,” Bone said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what happens the next couple days.”
A lot of MLS clubs are spending a lot of money on attacking midfielders, Bone’s collegiate position, and wingers, where he played in the Premier Development League as a member of the Colorado Pride Switchbacks. Bone says the reality of the situation might call for a slightly different role than what he’s become accustomed to, though he thinks his pace and experience in the Falcons’ aggressive, high-pressing system can translate to numerous positions.
“I think I’m versatile,” Bone said.
“It’s tough to make it if you’re strictly one position.”
Bone plans to sit with his mother in the section reserved for players during Friday’s draft, which starts at 11 a.m. MST and will be streamed on mlssoccer.com.
“I’d be stoked to be drafted by anyone,” Bone said.
“Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day.”