LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Former Kentucky All-American soccer standout Barry Rice has been invited to participate in trials with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United.
A native of Parma, Ohio, Rice will participate in trials with D.C. United, with a chance to make the MLS team. The 5-foot-11, defender etched his name throughout the UK history books during his career, exiting as the most decorated player in the 19-year history of the program.
“It is very exciting. It is something that you think about ever since you start playing, that you might have the opportunity to play professionally,” Rice said. “For me, it is a great opportunity to have the chance to start my professional career. It is very humbling.”
“Barry has been a great servant to our program both on and off the field,” UK head coach Ian Collins said. “He has carved out a great identity for himself here at UK and we all wish him great success as he embarks on his professional career.”
During his UK career, Rice was a standout performer from the moment he stepped foot on campus in Lexington as a freshman in 2006, starting all 21 games for the Wildcats and totaling five assists and one goal, earning All-Conference USA Freshman honors. In 2007, Rice stepped up for an injury-ravaged offensive attack, leading the team with seven goals and one assist, despite playing on the backline for UK. As a junior, Rice helped lead UK to a school-record 10-match unbeaten streak to end the season, adding two goals and one assist and earning C-USA Defensive Player of the Year. Following the 2008 campaign, Rice earned his second consecutive C-USA Defensive Player of the Year honor, marking the only two-time recipient of the award in the history of the league. As one of three team captains for the second consecutive year in 2009, Rice again had an excellent season, totaling two goals, while helping UK post a conference-pacing 0.78 goals-against average.
Overall in his UK career, Rice owns 31 points (12 goals and seven assists), ranking sixth all-time with seven game-winning goals. His 78 career games checks in seventh-best in UK history.
Over the last two seasons, Rice’s athleticism and instincts on the backline created the necessity for a new statistic to be kept by the UK soccer staff, the percentage of contested headers won vs. contested headers lost. In 2008, Rice won 189-of-218 contested header attempts, an 87-percent clip, which was highlighted by a shutout of Memphis in the regular-season finale, where he won 32-of-36 contested header attempts. In 2009, Rice won 126-of-155 contested header attempts (stat tracked in 16 of 18 UK games), an 81-percent mark.
A three-time first-team All-Conference USA selection, Rice was named All-America in 2008 by College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer. In 2009, Rice finished his career earning All-America accolades from the NSCAA, College Soccer News and Goal.com. One of three all-time All-America honorees in school history, Rice’s accolades in back-to-back seasons marks a first in the history of the program.
“Coach Collins has really helped teach me to treat myself as a professional,” Rice said. “He has taught me a lot of things that not a lot of coaches around the country can teach you. He has taught me to defend at a high level and it is definitely going to help me in this trial and furthering my professional career. He has taught me the way to act professionally and always play at a consistent level the way a professional would.”
UK senior Jason Griffiths will also begin his professional career, as the midfielder was drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLS Draft by the New England Revolution.