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Former Officer Candidate makes it big in MLS
Former Officer Candidate makes it big in MLS
By Traver Mayfield

For most college juniors the summer holds nothing but family visits, partying at the beach, or for the academically challenged, a little summer school. For Joshua Gros though, summer held nothing of the like.

Although he had been named Co-MVP for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Men’s Soccer Team just that fall, Gros had a different career plan in mind. In the summer of 2003 Gros entered OCS to begin the process of becoming a marine.

“I always had two dreams, to be a Marine and to play pro soccer, “ said Gros who hails from Mechanicsburg, PA, “It just looked like pro soccer wasn’t going to work out.”

For the next ten weeks Gros went through the same training that every other marine officer has done. It was here where Gros learned the true meaning of discipline and camaraderie, training with fellow officer candidates in Charlie Company 3rd Platoon. The same discipline and camaraderie experienced in a soccer team, except in the Marines your teammate is sometimes carrying a rifle and entrusting their lives to you.

“I learned more things in those ten weeks then I had learned in my whole life,” said Gros, “The Marines really do a good job of disciplining you and teaching you how to be a professional, no matter what field you may enter.”

In Gros’ case that field was pro soccer. After returning back to Rutgers Gros lit the Big East aflame leading the Division 1 conference in scoring and being named it’s Offensive player of the year. This led to an invite to the MLS Combine where he impressed DC United, who picked him in the fourth round of the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. Getting drafted led to a dilemma on Gros’ part. Which dream to follow, Marines or Soccer?

“My OSO let me know that the opportunity to be a Marine would always be there,” said Gros, “but pro soccer wouldn’t.”

That did not mean that Gros had automatically made the team though. He instead traveled down to Bradeton, Fla for United’s preseason camp having to fight for a roster spot. Gros ended up making the team, due in part to his experience at OCS.
“Going through OCS definitely helped (in training camp). Said Gros. “ I knew anything they put me through would be a thousand times easier than Marine Corps training.”

Even though he was playing on a team with stars like Jamie Moreno, Ryan Nelsen, and Freddy Adu, Gros ended up playing more minutes then any other United rookie since their inaugural season. He then played in all four of United’s playoff matches including MLS Cup where United won their league best fourth title. All while playing the second half of the season with a broken wrist.

Gros has picked up right where he left off in 2004. He currently leads the team in game winning goals and he recently won MLS Goal of the Week. With all of his great performances in the past two years, it’s a possibility that he may be able to serve his country in another way, by playing on the U.S. Men’s National Team. “I have a lot of work to do (to make the national team),” said Gros, “Bruce Arena’s (US Mens National Team Head Coach) son plays on my team so he sees us all the time. Hopefully he’ll notice my play and give me a call-up.”

While Gros is quick to acknowledge his Marine training as a reason to why he ahs done so well, United’s coaching staff has also noticed.

“There is no question that his background in the Marines has contributed to his strong work ethic, positive attitude and discipline on the field.” Said Gros. “He shows every other player on the team what it is to be disciplined.”

When asked if he would consider going into the marines when he was done with soccer Gros said “definitely” and reiterated his two dreams “to be a marine and to play pro soccer.” Whatever Josh Gros knows that those ten weeks, weeks that could’ve been spent partying or relaxing, will serve him well.
May 24, 2005 Traver Mayfield


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