Donawa handed MLS chance

  • Justin Donawa takes a shot for Dartmouth University

    Justin Donawa takes a shot for Dartmouth University

Justin Donawa is determined to win a contract at Columbus Crew after being picked up by the Ohio club in the 2019 Major League SuperDraft.

The Bermuda midfielder, who was selected as the 66th pick in the draft, will join the Crew next week for pre-season training where he will look to impress their coaching staff.

Donawa, a graduate of Dartmouth University, an Ivy League college in New Hampshire, said: “I’ve not signed yet, so I have to prove myself.

“At a young age, I realised I wanted to pursue this at a professional level and now I have an opportunity to do that. I’m very happy and very grateful.

“Now, I just have to go into pre-season with Columbus and prove my worth and show what I’m made of in order to get the contract.

“The hard work is not finished yet; not even in the slightest. I’ll buckle down and show the coaching staff I deserve to be in this position.”

The 22-year-old, who plays for Somerset Trojans domestically, had a trial at Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen last month.

“I had finished school and was just coming back from an injury and went to Scotland for the trial with Aberdeen,” he said.

“That was a good experience. It gave me the confidence I needed for opportunities like I have now. That went well; I obviously didn’t get signed by them, but I definitely got good feedback.”

Donawa has not been able to feature for Somerset, who are in a fight for survival in the Premier Division this season.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to risk getting injured again because I’ve had an injury-ridden season and wasn’t too happy about that,” he added.

“I was thinking about going out to play, but I forgot I would have needed international clearance from a club I was signed with in the United States. I decided to wait on the draft to see how it went.”

Donawa made 52 appearances in four years at Dartmouth, scoring ten goals. During his college career, he collected a number of accolades, including a first-team All-Ivy League selection in 2017 and All-Ivy League honourable mentions for 2015 and 2016. His graduation will be in June, when he will receive his sociology degree.

He also competed in athletics in college, specialising in the triple jump, in which he won the Ivy League Championship in 2018.

“I always had the goal of finishing early in order to pursue football,” Donawa added.

“I knew January would be a good window to dial down on football. In my mind, I just wanted to get school out of the way. It was tough being in school for consecutive terms, but it has paid off and I’m glad I did what I had to do.”

Donawa’s most recent appearances for Bermuda came against Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados last March during a trip to the Caribbean.

He said he is hoping to be available for Bermuda’s crunch Concacaf Nations League qualifier away to Dominican Republic in March.

“I really want to be involved,” he said. “We’ll see how things play out with Columbus.”

A true all-rounder, Page 31

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Published Jan 16, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 15, 2019 at 9:40 pm)

Donawa handed MLS chance

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