Robert Eaton has big plans in soccer and the Johnson City resident is on the move to achieve them.
Eaton has been signed to play and train at the Cincinnati FC Academy. He’ll be a goalkeeper on the MLS club’s U-17 team.
“It’s amazing,” said Eaton, who would have been a junior at Science Hill this year. “It’s been one of my dreams and being able to finally do it feels great. I’m 100% in. I love the sport and I want to get better at it. I’m hoping for the best out of this, college or pro, whatever it is. This is definitely a great opportunity.”
Eaton will spend his junior and senior years attending a high school in Cincinnati and spend just about all of his spare time on the soccer field.
“I do miss home,” he said. “I miss my friends and all that stuff, but this has been a dream.”
Eaton has had tryouts with Atlanta United and played in the Olympic Development program.
Science Hill coach David Strickland says he expects Eaton to thrive in such a soccer-intensive atmosphere that he’ll find in an MLS academy.
“He is a kid that needs to be in that environment,” Strickland said. “His work rate, work effort, his humbleness … He’s loaded with potential and being in an MLS academy where he is going to be with the best of the best is just so good for him. When you get to that level, everybody’s good. He’s got to be a good study, learn to stay humble and hopefully go to the next level with it.”
For Strickland, seeing Eaton leave town was a bittersweet moment. The Science Hill team is always one of the best around and losing a player of that caliber will hurt.
“It is a big loss,” Strickland said. “But what we do in high school seeing a student-athlete get this opportunity, you just clap for him. You’re so happy for him to get to do this. We’ve encouraged him 100%. He knows we’re with him.
“I just can’t say enough about the kid. He’s a great person.”
Eaton says Strickland’s encouragement has helped him as he moved up the soccer ladder.
“He’s been tremendous,” Eaton said. “He’s been all excited. Obviously, he helped me get here. He’s been one of my biggest supporters. I’m forever grateful.”