Around every corner, Andre Shinyashiki has had to fight through doubt, adversity and inattention.
Sometimes this resulted from his circumstance. Growing up in Brazil, he saw the uglier sides of the country he loves, like poverty, violence and men with guns on the sidelines of his youth games. Sometimes it was due to oversight from others. He starred on a high school soccer team that enjoyed an 117-game unbeaten run with two national titles, yet he wasn’t heavily recruited. At other times it’s been of his own doing. In just a brief span during his time at the University of Denver, he was embroiled in three altercations, leaving teammates with a concussion, broken nose and bloody face.
Or it's been because of who he is: A passionate fighter, someone who will work for every inch. Even when he was in his first professional preseason with the Colorado Rapids, he drew the ire of one of the country's living legends in the sport.
“We were in California after like a week of practice [and] we played a small-sided game where my team lost 5-4, but I scored all four goals," Shinyashiki, 22, told MLSsoccer.com in September. "I was just yelling something and Tim Howard came at me so hard. I was so frightened, like, 'Oh my god Tim Howard hates me. I’m done here forever.' Turns out he was just helping me, he’s been so good to me. That moment was really important for me.”
Thankfully, Shinyashiki's able to laugh about it now, but he's always been a scrapper. From growing up in Brazil, to excelling at Montverde Academy in Florida, to shining at Denver, and now after a stellar rookie campaign in MLS, Shinyashiki embraces the battle.
“I learned not to take anything for granted; everything you do, you have to earn it," Shinyashiki said. "That’s my life. I wasn’t always the most talented player, I didn’t go to a big school, I didn’t get heavily recruited, but here I am.”
Here he is, your AT&T 2019 MLS Rookie of the Year.