Growing up in Northwest Indiana, Trevor Spangenberg saw his fair share of Chicago Fire soccer matches.
Sunday in Los Angeles, the Boone Grove High School and Missouri State University graduate will be in uniform playing against the Fire as the newest member of Major League Soccer's Chivas USA.
"It's pretty funny," Spangenberg said on his way to a team physical Thursday afternoon. "They were close, so those were the games we'd go to. They're the opponent now."
A record-setting keeper at Missouri State, Spangenberg was an all-Missouri Valley Conference selection, ranking third nationally in goals against average (0.41) this season. He received a tryout with Chivas through a connection of one of his coaches. After two weeks at camp in Tucson and playing in a number of exhibition matches, Spangenberg won the roster spot and signed a one-year deal Wednesday.
"I had high expectations," he said. "I knew I could play at this level. I didn't feel like I would be overwhelmed. Honestly, we were neck and neck. It would have been hard for me to pick myself over him. It was that close. The build-up, going out to the tryout, going through everything, was more of a great experience than signing the document. But it's great to officially be a part of the team. It's something I've always dreamed of and now I finally get to do it."
Spangenberg was back in Springfield, Mo. to pack before flying out this weekend when the team called him Wednesday to catch a flight to L.A. as soon as possible. As of Thursday, Spangenberg didn't have a jersey or a number, but he wasn't complaining.
"The last 24 hours have been the craziest of my life," he said.
As a rookie, Spangenberg doesn't figure to see much playing time behind Chivas' Dan Kennedy, a 2013 MLS All-Star and team MVP. His first year will serve as an apprenticeship of sorts.
"It's different for keepers. They don't reach their best until their late 20s," Spangenberg said. "I'm going to learn from one of the best in the MLS. Every day in training, I'm going to watch what he does and work my butt off to get better. This is like a one-year tryout. I'm going to enjoy it. At the same time, I know I have to earn my position on the team. This is just the start."