Jacob Murrell is reaching new heights while staying local

Published March 2, 2024

Photo courtesy of Hannah Wagner/D.C. United; Design by Madeline Jones

Georgetown men’s soccer alumnus Jacob Murrell is only 19 years old, but he’s already reached incredible heights in his soccer career. The standout striker, who was recently drafted by D.C. United of Major League Soccer (MLS), has rapidly risen through the levels of his sport, going from high school soccer to college, semi-professional, and now professional soccer. Most unique about Murrell, though, is that he’s done all of it while staying local to the DMV. 

Murrell was a highly-ranked recruit coming out of the McDonogh School in Maryland, where he scored 41 goals and was named the Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year in his senior year. Coming out of high school, he decided to stay in the DMV, committing to play college soccer at Georgetown.

Murrell had an outstanding career as a Hoya, scoring 18 goals and recording eight assists in his two seasons on the Hilltop. In 2023, he made the All-BIG EAST First Team along with four other Hoyas. For Murrell, though, the numbers and accolades weren’t what made his time at Georgetown special.

“Whether we were winning or losing, it was just one of the closest groups I’ve ever been a part of, guys that I’ll be friends with for life, which was really special,” Murrell said in an interview with the Voice. “The coaching staff at Georgetown, they’re the best people in the world.

They shaped me into being a good person as well as trying to reach the top level.”

Georgetown’s men’s soccer program is a national powerhouse, and during his time on the Hilltop, Murrell was one of the best players on one of the best teams in the country. Developing as a player, though, was only part of his journey as a Hoya. 

“Obviously we’re competing at the highest level on the field, but at the same time we’re competing academically at one of the most rigorous universities in the country, or in the world,” Murrell said. “It was quite difficult to manage that at times, but it also helped us with time management, productivity, that type of stuff, which is really useful now as a professional athlete now with a lot more time on my hands.”

During the summer between his two seasons at Georgetown, Murrell took another step on his journey to the pros with another DMV soccer team—Annapolis Blues FC. The Blues are a semi-professional team in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) that played their inaugural season over the summer of 2023. Murrell was a key contributor to the team, scoring ten goals in ten appearances. One of his biggest moments as a Blue came in the Mid-Atlantic Conference Final, where he scored a game-tying goal in the dying minutes of regulation and the game-winning penalty kick in the shootout. 

“That was really different than playing for the club team growing up or the college team, because it was just a brand new team just being established,” Murrell said. “We were trying to lay the path for the future for the club, and they did a great job to put us as players into a position where we were playing in front of 7,500 to 10,000 fans, which was just quite incredible. It was something that I had never experienced in my life, and … I hope it will prepare me and make me a bit more relaxed when stepping in front of a bunch of fans.”

Murrell’s success, both as a Blue and as a Hoya, proved that he had professional-level talent. That’s ultimately what led D.C. United to select him with the seventh overall pick of the 2024 MLS SuperDraft, the league’s college player draft. 

Murrell described how it felt to learn he had been drafted by his local team, saying: “I’ve always been in the DMV area, and it’s something that’s really important to me to play in this area to try and make an impact on this community, and also be close to home so my family can come watch me play and I can see my family a good bit. So staying home with D.C. was something I was really excited about.”

The SuperDraft took place in December, and since then Murrell has left Georgetown and focused on adjusting to the MLS level of play in his first experience with a professional league. MLS is among the best leagues in the world, and the demands on players’ skill and awareness are high, as Murrell acknowledged. 

“You definitely have to be a lot sharper. The speed of play is a lot faster, it’s more physical. So, I would say the biggest difference that I’ve noticed is my touch has to be perfect, my ideas have to be perfect, I have to know what I’m doing before I get the ball for things to really work out for me.”

Adjusting to the professional level is a tall task, but Murrell is hoping he’ll have plenty of time to get acclimated and find success in the MLS. He’s making health and longevity priorities for his career so that he can avoid injuries and stay in the game as long as possible.

“My biggest goal is to have a 10-plus-year career. I just want to have a long career. This is what I love doing, so I want to do it for as long as I possibly can,” he said. “Just take care of my body, so I’m in a spot 10–15 years from now to still be playing.”

Although his career is just beginning, Murrell has excelled at every single place he’s played. From high school to college to the NPSL, he’s proven time and time again to be a determined and prolific striker who scores goals. As a D.C. United player, he’ll have yet another chance to prove himself and rise to the elite level of soccer—all while staying close to home.

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