Vlendy "Eric" Slueue does a lot of his work in a crowd.

If he's free from the masses, and a soccer ball is at the Junior Lone Star midfielder's feet, his opponent may be in trouble.

"People can't stop me one-on-one," Slueue said. "They can't."

In practice or in a game, the anticipation level rises when the ball finds Slueue. His turns and feints keep defenders off balance, setting up the next move.

His best attribute?

"I'm good with my left foot," Slueue said.

A recent graduate of Bartram High, the 18-year-old native of Liberia drew a lot of Division I college interest but recently decided to play professional soccer. His Junior Lone Star coach, Thomas George, said Slueue recently told him about playing in college, "I can go there and pretend I want to be there."

Instead, he has signed an agreement with an agency out of Bulgaria, and he's looking for the right European opportunity.

George has no doubt that Slueue will make it. Last year, he led the club's U-19 team to state and regional titles.

"He's one of those players that grows with the game," George said. "The harder the game, the better he is."

His life, Slueue said, is soccer: "We don't do nothing out of school. Just go to practice, go home, study. That's it."

He was 11 years old, he said, when he came to Philadelphia from Ghana, after leaving Liberia when civil war broke out. He followed his mother here by two years. He can't remember much about life in Monrovia, Liberia.

"I watched on TV," Slueue said. "I saw some bad things. I saw killing the president on national TV. That was pretty sad."

Once in Philadelphia, he followed his older brother to Junior Lone Star. The coach saw this little boy. You know how to play? Bring your cleats tomorrow.

Right now, they are looking for the right professional opportunity for Slueue because he is too old for a youth team but needs to make sure he gets a full chance with a senior team. He has a tryout trip planned with stops in Belgium, Ireland, and Italy.

"If you go to the wrong club, you can disappear faster than you realize," George said.