Connecticut Kids Living Their UConn Soccer Dream

STORRS —

How hard was Reid on him?

"I think even he at this point would admit he laid into me pretty good when I first got here," Wasserman said. "He demands perfection every single day.

"He jokes around that Connecticut kids are softer, but I know he wants to get us tough. Unlike some of our guys who probably didn't grow up in the best circumstances around the world, we grew up in probably a more comfortable style of living. Maybe we had things taken care of for us."

Wasserman, who'll graduate in December in psychology, endured and prospered to the point where Reid said, "I think he has a chance at the MLS. I really mean that." So when his UConn career ends, Sunday, next weekend or next month with a national title, Wasserman will take a shot at playing pro in the states or abroad.

"I've played all my life," Wasserman said. "I'd regret not trying."

His dad played pro in the ASL. At home, in fact, there's a precious memento of those days.

"He played against the Cosmos once and traded uniforms with Franz Beckenbauer," Max said. "I never put it on. I don't know if he'd want me to. I don't even know if he's washed it."

The best Wasserman family moment of 2012, however, came in September. Overtime. Game televised nationally on Fox Soccer. Free kick. Wasserman bent the ball around a four-man wall for the winner.

"It was one of the better moments of my career," Wasserman said. "The best part was my grandmother [Jean Wasserman] who lives in Florida bought the channel for that one game. She hasn't come up to see me play since I've been at UConn.

"Afterward, she left me a message on my phone. I still have it. It's great."

Weir, who majors in exercise science, could have gone to Brown. He chose to chase his soccer dream at UConn. He started seven down the stretch in 2011 and has appeared in every game as a senior. Injury? Fatigue? Replicating opponent players in practice? He knows his role and does it happily.

"My sixth guy off the bench," Reid said turning a basketball metaphor.

Meanwhile, Bradley, who has blossomed since being redshirted as a freshman, entered UConn with modest expectations.

"You're definitely right about that," said Bradley, majoring in sociology. "One day at practice my freshman year [Reid] threw me in the middle from left back and something happened for me. It was a stroke of luck in some ways and a lot of hard work after that."

"And now look," Reid said. "He could end up starting every game for four years."

Bradley was one of only two Huskies to score during penalty kicks in the 2011 quarterfinal loss to UNC Charlotte that left UConn agonizingly short of its first Final Four since 2000.

"There was so much heartbreak," Bradley said. "It adds to how badly we want it. That heartbreak is going to help us."

"The chemistry on this team is unlike anything I've ever been a part of," Wasserman said. "We deserve at this point to get to the Final Four."

Spoken like UConn players, spoken like home-state fans.

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