Tacoma Defiance’s 19-year-old goalkeeper has been around, just not that long in goal

Don’t put him in goal.

Those were Dave Muse’s instructions to youth soccer coaches about his son, Trey. Dave had played goalie in college at Kentucky back in the 1990s and he wanted his son, who had been kicking a soccer ball before he was in kindergarten, to play the field, develop his footwork and learn the game.

Only after Trey had learned to play defense, in the midfield and as a forward would he be allowed to play in goal. Then and only then.

When Trey was 12, he came home and found a large box. Dave told him to open it; inside were the tools Trey would need for his soccer future.

“It had five goalkeeper DVDs, I think I bought him 12 pairs of gloves because he would grow into different sizes over time,” Dave Muse said. “He said ‘Wow, our goalkeeper is gonna love you for this.’ I told him that the stuff wasn’t for the goalkeeper, they were for him.”

Trey balked. He liked playing the field. But his dad insisted this was his destiny.

“I did play some sports when I was younger, some baseball, some basketball,” Muse said. “My dad wanted me to play football just to get me tougher, I stopped that after about two years because I wanted to play soccer and specialize in goalkeeping. Once eighth grade hit I was strictly focused on soccer. I thought that was the best for me and my parents thought so as well.”

Unconventional? Maybe. Is it paying off? Absolutely.

Muse, 19, is now the goalie for the Tacoma Defiance, who host the New Mexico United Friday at Cheney Stadium at 7 p.m. He was recently named to the roster for the under-20 U.S. Men’s National Team and could play for the U.S. in the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland in May.

While Europe could be in his near future, Trey’s path so far has taken him to many place. He’s gone from his hometown of Louisville to the Pacific Northwest — when he joined the Sounders youth academy in 2015 — to Indiana for college and now to Tacoma so that he can play for the Seattle Sounders’ USL team.

“Up until a few weeks ago, I was staying at a hotel near Starfire,” Trey said. “I’ve finally got a place, and settled so that helped me with my peace of mind. I’ve got a comfortable place to go home to instead of a hotel where you’re living with someone else.”

While attending Roosevelt High School in Seattle, he made 32 starts for the Sounders academy team and made the U-18 U.S. Men’s National Team. Colleges were cool on him mainly because they thought he would turn pro. But Muse decided he wanted the collegiate experience and drew interest from Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana.

While Trey was in Slovenia for a tournament, Dave was in contact with Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley, setting up an official visit. Seeing the campus and meeting the team, Yeagley said, sealed the deal.

“It was a wonderful thing for us,” Yeagley said. “We all felt good about the fit.”

In 2017, his freshman season, Trey recorded 18 shutouts to match the all-time NCAA and Indiana mark while setting a new Big Ten conference record. The .260 goals against average ranks as the fourth-highest mark in NCAA history. By season’s end, he was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Freshman Best XI, College Soccer News All-Freshman first team, Big Ten All-Freshman team, All-Big Ten second team and College Cup All-Tournament Team.

“He just has the it factor,” Yeagley said. “It’s hard to say what that is, you just feel it and he has that. It kind of manifests itself in different ways, his ability to make a play or his ability to make others feel comfortable with him behind you. All of that allowed us to have to record-breaking seasons with the program that’s been really good defensively.”

Muse’s talents were on display in the game that allowed Indiana to reach the College Cup, soccer’s version of the final four. After a 110 minutes and having already made five saves, Muse and his teammates went to penalty kicks against Michigan State. Muse stopped three shots and the Hoosiers prevailed, 3-2.

“He was in the Kentucky state cup (as a youth player) and he had helped them get into overtime and then into penalties. He got his hands on two shots but they went in,” Dave Muse said. “So it was a miserable shootout, after he made the first save vs. Michigan State I started to feel confident.”

Indiana won is semifinal game before losing, 1-0, to Stanford in the championship game. The next year, Indiana reached the semifinals only to lose to Maryland, 2-0, in what would be Muse’s last game for the Hoosiers.

Playing professionally was always a goal. On Jan. 15, Muse signed a homegrown contract with the Sounders.

Long-time Sounders goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra wasted little time exposing Muse to what would be required of him as a pro. So, he had Muse stay with Stefan Frei during workouts.

“I had them room together in preseason just so Trey could pick his brain and just see how it is to be a pro,” Dutra said. “See how he trains, see how he behaves and not just stuff on the pitch but off as well. Sometimes older goalkeepers aren’t good to younger goalkeepers but with this group, led by Stef and Bryan (Meredith), they’ve been willing to help out Trey any way they can.”

Dutra said there’s still work to do before Muse is threatening Frei’s job. But he’s on his way.