That welcome-to-adulthood birthday, however, may register as just the second most-important milestone accomplished by the goalkeeper in 2015.
Stajduhar signed a homegrown contract with Orlando City earlier this week and will begin his professional career just a couple hours from where his family lives in Lithia. It’s the fulfillment of a goal Stajduhar set when he left his club in the Tampa area to join the Orlando City academy.
“I was with the Clearwater Chargers, their academy over there, and I talked to my goalkeeper coach in Bradenton, Tim Mulqueen, and he was like, ‘I really think the opportunity with Orlando City becoming an MLS club [is] that you can sign a homegrown contract,’” Stajduhar recalled. “This is what I envisioned.”
The 6-2, 190-pound teenager started training regularly with Orlando City’s senior team toward the end of the season and opted to sign with the Lions instead of heading to USF, where he had committed. Stajduhar drives about two hours each way to get from his home to practice – waking up at 5 a.m. for the morning sessions – but he hopes to get an apartment once he turns 18 to make the commute easier by the time preseason training starts in February.
“When I first started training with the first team, it was a big jump,” Stajduhar said. “But once I got a taste of it, I knew right away that this was for me and this would be the right path for me to develop.”