Janos Loebe (center) with Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett (left) and head coach Chris Armas (right). (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
By Michael Lewis
CHICAGO — Talk about role reversals.
While starring for Fordham University, Janos Loebe ventured across the George Washington Bridge to watch and root and cheer for the Red Bulls.
In the spring, he hopes he will see some action on the Red Bull Arena pitch and hear some cheers from the crowd after he was selected by the team as the 22nd overall pick (in the first round) of last week’s MLS SuperDraft.
Loebe’s most recent match in Harrison, N.J. was as a spectator at the Red Bulls’ 3-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He didn’t sit in the South Ward, but close enough to enjoy the super-supporters’ enthusiasm.
“It was just great to see how they support their team,” he said. “They had lost at Columbus, 1-0. going into this game, they knew they had to win this game. The way they pushed this team it was just crazy. It was really like goose bumps.”
And perhaps Loebe, who was a winger with Fordham, could give some himself to Red Bulls fans.
“Yeah, hopefully,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of work in front of me. I have to prove myself. I have to show the team and the coaches that it was the right decision to pick me. I can’t wait to get started. Hopefully I will see them from the other side, from the field.”
A native of Kierspe, Germany, Loebe did so for the Rams, especially in 2017 as Loebe had a role in almost half of the Rams’ 33 goals, scoring seven and setting up another nine.
Moreover, he was a pillar during Fordham’s best post-season run ever as the Bronx college reached the NCAA Division I quarterfinals for the first time, losing at the University of North Carolina, 2-1.
The 5-11, 165-lb. Janos teamed with his older brother, Jannik, a senior forward who tallied a team-high nine goals, to form a dangerous attacking duo. Janos was named the FrontRowSoccer.com men’s college player of the year for his overall performance.
“Besides being very good soccer players and technical players and good athletes, one of the real important aspects that they brought along with a couple of other players is just the high standard that they set for themselves, but also the other players,” former Fordham head coach Jim McElderry said in 2017 “They expect to win and expect to do well. And if they don’t, they are not happy about it and they’re going to make changes to make it work.”
Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett liked what he saw of Loebe at the MLS combine.
“He’s an attacking player,” he said. “But we see him as a player who can play as a wingback, an attacking option. He’s very comfortable. He understands the game, got good physical attributes. So it’s another player on the left side who gives us cover to come in and compete.”
Loebe certainly thought so. He felt his playing philosophy was similar to the Red Bulls’ strategy, so his transition from college to pro should not be so severe.
Asked to describe his game, Loebe replied, “I’m a fast player. Good going forward, good in transition. That’s exactly what the Red Bulls’ philosophy is. I think that’s the reason why they chose me. I fit into the philosophy that they play. That’s my game.”
A year older than Janos, Jannik returned to Germany last year and has a job while playing some soccer on the side.
“I can only imagine that he’s more than happy for me,” Janos said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance last year I have right now. I wouldn’t be here right now because he kind of set me up for success. So, I thank him for that.”