Grand Prairie, TX – Texas United is pleased to announce that former player Jared Rice has signed a professional contract with FC Roskilde in Denmark. The 22-year-old left back is a recent Southern Methodist University graduate and played with Texas United in the 2017 and 2018 Premier Development League seasons.

Thanks to support from his brother and parents, Rice got into soccer at a very young age. “My older brother played, and from there I always looked up to him and wanted to get into the sport.” Having played many sports at a young age, Rice said he knew early on that soccer was the sport for him. “I quickly realized soccer was the one I wanted to stick with,” he said.

When asked about how influential his parents and brother were at such a young age, Rice responded, “They were very influential. My brother was pretty good and I always want to get up to his level,” he said. “I would play up with a lot of his teams, and they were four years older than me. Playing with them would get me prepared and allowed me to grow into the player that I am today,” he continued.

With Rice’s talent noticeable at such a young age, it is no surprise that Rice began his club career in Dallas, Texas when he was just eight years old. “I started at a young age at Club Classic,” he said. “That was where I think I grew the most as an eight-year-old kid until I was 11 or 12. From there, I joined Solar for a year and then the Texans where most of my development continued,” he continued.

When Rice was just 13 years old and preparing to leave middle school for the next chapter of his playing career, he got a unique opportunity to go overseas and train with European giants Manchester United. “We were able to train for a week and assimilate into their youth program and had a week to see what it was like to be a Manchester United youth player,” he said. This experience undoubtedly prepared him for his transition into high school and club soccer.

After just one year of playing high school soccer at Plano East, Rice made the decision to leave the school’s team and focus on his development elsewhere. “In my case, I chose to do the development academy. It helped me get to where I am. But I know there are still lots of good players that play high school and still get recruited to good college teams,” he said. Much like his time at Manchester United, Rice also got an opportunity to train in Spain with Atletico Madrid his senior year of high school where he began to prepare for college soccer.

Following a successful spell playing club soccer and in different developmental academies, Rice ultimately received numerous offers to play NCAA soccer with some of the country’s biggest schools. “By my junior year of high school, I had narrowed my choices down to a few schools and chose SMU,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Rice to make his impact at SMU. “I came in as a left back and was able to grab the starting position right away,” he said. “I came in and helped my team get off to a pretty good first year as a freshman,” he continued.

SMU’s soccer program is unmatched by most other schools in NCAA division I soccer. When asked about how SMU has prepared him for the next step in his career, he said, “There have been so many good players and coaches I’ve gotten to play with and learn from in my four years there.”

Realizing that he could have an opportunity to continue developing his career during the college offseason, Rice joined Texas United, a PDL team, in 2017. Originally recruited by then Head Coach Ryan Higginbotham, Rice became a leader for Texas United through its first season in the PDL.

Rice continued his commitment to the PDL club when current Head Coach Arez Ardalani recruited him for his second year with the team. “It’s a great way to stay fit over the summer and play with some really great players,” Rice said when asked about how he enjoyed the PDL season. “It helped me a lot and it’s a pretty good place to be if you’re trying to stay fit, play at a competitive level, and get to another level you’re aspiring to be at,” he continued.

One person in particular that Rice credited his success to was Texas United coach Ardalani. “He was a great coach,” he said. “Despite being young, he was able to get all of us focused and on the same page,” he continued. “Everyone enjoyed having him. The practices were fun, everyone seemed like they were in a good mood and spirit, and it translated to the field,” he said.

Part of the mission of the PDL is to prepare players for the next step in their careers. When asked if the PDL fulfilled this mission, Rice responded, “I believe it did. I know that if I wouldn’t have played this summer in the PDL I wouldn’t be coming in with the same confidence for my recruiting combines and wouldn’t have this opportunity to play in Denmark,” he said.

Rice said he officially signed his professional contract on July 4th, 2018 and plans to begin his professional career in Denmark in two to three weeks. “I’m feeling good, I’m excited. I’m ready for the new adventure. I’ve just been training and staying as fit as possible so I can be ready to go fight for a starting spot,” he said.

Leaving to play in a new country can be difficult, but Rice is focused and has clear expectations for himself that will guide his career. “My goal is to go over there and start and make an impact on the team right away. I just hope to come in and show well and earn my way into the spot,” he said.

After signing his first professional contract, Rice has aspirations that go beyond playing professionally in Denmark. “I hope to do well here. We’ve seen a lot of guys go overseas and they seemed to get noticed more and if you do well the coaches notice and maybe invite you down to a USA camp,” he said when asked about his dream to play for the national team.

Finishing, Rice said, “I just hope to take care of business in Roskilde and maybe there are scouts out there watching and keeping up with me. Maybe in four years I’ll be playing in the next World Cup. I see it as a goal of mine, and I think it’s possible, so I’m going to keep working see what I can do,” Rice concluded.

The PDL and Texas United aim to help as many players like Jared achieve their dreams of one day becoming a professional soccer player. Our staff at Texas United would like to thank Jared Rice for his commitment to Texas United in the team’s first two seasons and wish him well in his next chapter in Denmark. We encourage all the fans to continue supporting your local PDL team and join the conversation online using the PDL’s hashtag #Path2Pro.