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Brandon Aubrey was a 2017 MLS SuperDraft first round pick, now he’s the Dallas Cowboys’ kicker

A former professional soccer player is now the placekicker for America’s football team, the Dallas Cowboys. Brandon Aubrey, 28, was a first round draft in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft for Toronto FC and made his NFL debut on Sunday.

Aubrey played college soccer at Notre Dame as a defender from 2013 through 2016 and was the 21st pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Other notable names in the first round of that draft include USMNT players Miles Robinson, Jackson Yueill and Julian Gressel.

Aubrey’s soccer career would take a different path as he was never able to break into Toronto’s first team and only made appearances for Toronto FC II in the USL. 

After an unsuccessful year with Toronto, he signed with the Philadelphia Union’s affiliate team Bethlehem Steel (who changed their name to Philadelphia Union II later). He would feature in 27 matches in 2018 but was again released at the end of the season like he was in Toronto.

“I would say I wasn't fully prepared for that first opportunity in MLS, where you get on a superstar team, where you have the Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovincos that you've been watching your whole life. Where you followed it really closely and maybe have that feeling where you might not actually belong,” Aubrey said in an interview with MLS.  

“So that was the biggest test for me, probably a thing I didn't get over quick enough in MLS, and by the time I had gotten over it and started to perform well in practices, the decision had already been made.”

Following his release from Bethlehem he began a hiatus from professional sports until his wife changed everything. While watching an NFL game on TV in 2019 a kicker missed one of his field goal attempts and Aubrey’s wife said, “you could do that.”

Game changer. Aubrey had a new passion and goal which was kicking field goals.

Aubrey hired a kicking coach and trained full-time during the Covid-19 pandemic. A few years later he got his shot when the USFL's Birmingham Stallions selected him as the team’s starting kicker for the 2022 season.

He went on to win two championships with the Stallions and was then invited to the Dallas Cowboys’ 2023 summer camp and preseason. Dallas was in desperate need of a kicker after their previous one, Brett Maher, missed five extra points in the playoffs last season.

During the preseason Aubrey managed to convert a 59-yard field goal to cement his place on the team.

In his first game with the Cowboys on Sunday he had a nightmare start in his NFL debut as he shanked his first extra point attempt wide. He made up for it though making his next four extra points and converting his 21 and 38-yard field goal attempts.

It’s incredibly rare to see players jump from MLS to NFL. One other case is now-retired NFL kicker Josh Lambo who played in the NFL for several years with the Chargers and Jaguars.

Lambo was a goalkeeper drafted eighth overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft by FC Dallas. He even made several appearances for the USMNT U-20 team. Similar to Aubrey, he wasn’t able to find much success and retired from soccer at the age of 21. After kicking in college for Texas A&M he signed for the Chargers.

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