When Cole Missimo didn't make the MLS combine, his future seemed uncertain.
The communications and sociology major, who only logged one goal and two assists in his senior season at Northwestern University, considered pursuing a career as a sports agent or joining his uncle in the restaurant business.
But then the Union drafted the midfielder in the fourth round of January's MLS SuperDraft.
"They gave me a chance," Missimo said. "That was all I needed."
The 23-year-old Dallas native, who has practiced all season with the Union and played 12 games with the minor-league affiliate Bethlehem Steel, is now preparing for his first minutes of MLS playing time.
Union head coach Jim Curtin said that younger players will be in the lineup Wednesday night when his squad takes on Crystal Palace of the English Premier League. The international friendly, part of Crystal Palace's North American tour, is a preseason game for the Union's opponent.
Hopefully, Curtin said, Missimo will get an opportunity.
"My first time on the field, in front of the lights and the fans and not being in that mindset of playing all year, it is going to be tough," Missimo said. "But I can do it."
"As with any young player, the season can be long. It can grind. He played at a university where [the season] is three months," Curtin said. "And now it gets to be four, five months into the season, and you haven't gotten minutes. These are big opportunities for someone like him."
To add to the pressure, Wednesday's game is against a Crystal Palace team that Missimo has been watching on TV since he was a kid.
In preparation, he said he has put his head down and worked on in-game scenarios - "If I get this ball in this position, what am I going to do with it?"
Tuesday morning, after training in nearly 90-degree heat, he walked off the Talen Energy Stadium field dripping with sweat. While the season has indeed been a grind, Missimo said he has already seen improvement defensively, improvement that hasn't gone unnoticed by his coaches.
"Cole is a player who one-[on]-one has an incredible ability to take players on," Curtin said. "Earnie [Stewart, the Union's sporting director] and I discuss it all the time. He is special."
Missimo could only imagine what will be going through his head if he steps onto the pitch Wednesday.
"It is definitely a time that I have to shine and show what I can do for the team," Missimo said. "When I get on there, the adrenaline rush is going to be crazy. I'm going to have to calm myself down."