Just weeks ago he was studying business at the University of Notre Dame while representing the Fighting Irish in the NCAA tournament. But after a life-changing week where he was selected 14th overall in the MLS SuperDraft, he’s now begun his journey as a professional soccer player with Atlanta United.
“It’s gone by pretty fast,” said Gallagher following his fifth day with his new club. “Kind of a whirlwind of a week from being drafted to being sent down here and straight into preseason, so it’s been a joyful experience so far.”
Student-athlete to professional athlete is a difficult adjustment to make and one that not many even get the chance to attempt. Your mentality, environment and competition are completely transformed, and while it’s been different for him, Gallagher says he anticipated the change.
“It’s just a lot more professional the way guys carry themselves both on and off the field, whether it’s just getting ready for training or carrying themselves around the locker room. Then obviously the intensity is much higher in practice too. I expected that with the jump to the next level.”
Not only was he eager to become a professional, but when Atlanta United called on his name at the MLS SuperDraft, he couldn’t wait to lace up and take the pitch.
“They’re a very exciting team so I’d tune in to as many games as possible, and watching some of the attacking players was just a joy to watch. The fact that I’m here playing with them on the same field is awesome. I mean it’s hard to believe it’s true. I’m lucky.”
Before he finished his college career, Gallagher recorded 39 goals as a forward for the Irish, including a capstone 2017 season where he scored 13 goals and tallied two assists as an All-American. Needless to say he proved to be an invaluable asset on the front line, and Atlanta’s staff sees his potential.
“I feel like a pacey player but I wouldn’t say that’s the only part of my game. I like to think of myself as a bit more versatile – I know at the combine I played as a number eight, a center mid – I can play right back if you needed me to, I can play up top too.”
There’s no telling what the cards hold for Gallagher in 2018. It could be with the first team or perhaps a more involved role with the recently announced USL side Atlanta United 2.
“I’m pretty familiar. We had a couple guys that graduated in the past years from Notre Dame that have played in USL so I’ve watched their games. Obviously being a soccer junkie I try to watch as much soccer as possible so I’m familiar with it, and to be honest I’m happy just once I’m playing.”
Whether he’s getting minutes in MLS or USL, there’s no doubt Gallagher will be giving 100% at every training session as he begins his path as a pro.
“I always pride myself in having a great work ethic.”