Former Edina soccer player signs contract with FC Minneapolis

Emma Bailey, staff writer

At Edina High School, soccer games are very popular with students. Hundreds of fans come out to support our team, whether we’re winning or losing. However, life is a lot different for Malachi Donofrio, former Edina Junior Varsity and Varsity goalkeeper, who recently signed with an independent soccer league based in Minneapolis.

Donofrio spent a couple of years at EHS before starting homeschooling last year. The 17-year-old athlete has only been in America for three years, but has already made his mark. “I got into soccer when I was in Japan. I lived in Japan for 14 years,” said Donofrio. Soccer wasn’t always his passion; however, after trying out for fun, Donofrio decided he liked the sport and wanted to make it into a career.

As a foreigner, Donofrio wasn’t able to get as far in Japan as a Japanese athlete could while playing soccer. In traditional Japanese culture, sports like Judo and Karate are more celebrated, so minor league organizations for less traditional sports are not as structured. However, Donofrio was able to make it onto one of the top regional teams in Japan.

In middle school, Donofrio was able to learn the basics of goalkeeping before his career was interrupted by his move to the United States. During his first year at EHS, Donofrio played JV goalkeeper, and then later played Varsity. Once he decided to be homeschooled, Donofrio had a lot more flexibility and was able to devote time to working on his soccer career.

In early April, Donofrio began to achieve his dreams by signing a two-year contract with FC Minneapolis. As an independent league, FC Minneapolis plays games wherever they can get them. “Whoever says yes to us, we play them,” said Donofrio. Most games are local, but the team participates in a number of away games as well; Donofrio commented on his particular excitement about an upcoming game in Wichita, Kansas.

Even at the professional level, Donofrio stands out. At 17, he is the youngest player on FC Minneapolis’ roster. Donofrio does not feel that the age difference has any impact on the team’s chemistry, as most of his teammates are only a few years older than him. Despite any obstacles, the team plays very well together.

During his time at FC Minneapolis, Donofrio will learn all there is to know about goalkeeping. Though Donofrio’s skill already compensates for his young age, the athlete will be working towards improvement with FC Minneapolis.

Even among much older teammates, Donofrio stands out. “Unlike many players, Malachi has an unwavering resolve to succeed. His belief in the player he can become if he continues down the road of disciplined commitment has been his number one quality, helping him rise from one level of the game to the other,” said Ian Sendi, the director at FC Minneapolis.

After his contract expires in 2019, Donofrio hopes to be sold and play for another country after his time with FC Minneapolis is complete. European countries such as Spain and Germany are on Donofrio’s radar, as well as his home country of Japan.