Michael Vang ’18, a graduate of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Soccer Center of Excellence Program, made his professional debut with Forward Madison earlier this August, becoming the first Hmong man to play professional soccer in the U.S. Michael punctuated this milestone by scoring his first professional goal less than ten minutes into his first game!
Originally from St. Paul and the youngest of four children, Michael attended SSM from 2016 to 2018, but his soccer journey began when he was a young child. His father, Tay, started a soccer club called St. Paul United, in order to give his children and other Hmong kids more opportunities to play and develop their skills. In Michael’s senior speech, he wrote about his father, “I want to thank him for making me a better player after giving him a hard time all those years when I didn’t play my best.”
After playing for Harding High School and U.S. national teams at the U14 and U15 levels, he arrived at SSM for his junior year. After graduation from SSM, Michael impressed Alex Bunbury at a two-week tryout for a club in Portugal’s third division, Sociedade Uniao 1 Dezembro. Bunbury, a Canadian Soccer hall of famer, MLS player, and investor in Sociedade Uniao 1 Dezembro, led Michael to decide to play professionally in Portugal. Bunbury is also father to SSM Soccer COE alum Teal Bunbury ’08, who is also a professional soccer player.
Michael advanced to the first team in Bunbury’s club and played well, but soon came back to Minnesota due to the league’s international player limits. Before long, he and his older brother Brian were invited to tryout with Forward Madison. Brian Vang later became the second Hmong professional player in the United States with the Michigan Stars in the National Premier Soccer League.
Both brothers hope that their success will provide other Hmong players with inspiration to continue pursuing their professional soccer dreams, as Michael explained in an article with the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
We’re excited to see where Michael’s journey takes him next after this incredible milestone!
For more of the latest news about our boys Soccer Center of Excellence program, visit our athletic site here.