Elvir Ibisevic is intent on taking his soccer to the next level.
In January that meant leaving Johnston behind for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. On Wednesday, that meant signing early with the University of Nebraska Omaha in order to join his college team next spring.
“I’m excited to get with the team early because it’ll be the preseason, spring season when I get there, so I can get to know the guys,” Ibisevic said. “When the season comes, I’ll already be connected with them and have already played.”
Ibisevic scored 20 goals for Johnston as a sophomore, but his junior year was interrupted after a strong performance last December with his Olympic Development Program Region II team. The explosive striker got an offer to become the first Iowan to join the prestigious residency program and train daily at IMG Academy.
“I became like a whole different player,” Ibisevic said. “I learned a lot of new things and pushed myself every day.
“Practicing with the guys, playing games and putting on the jersey, it was just a cool experience.”
The JUSC and Sporting Iowa product made two appearances for the U-17 national side, then returned home and committed to Omaha in June.
He is still a member of Sporting Kansas City’s academy, and said the MLS club asked him to move down and join the U-18 side for this school year. College soccer will come first.
“Elvir is a fantastic player with a wonderful resume,” Omaha coach Jason Mims said in a release Wednesday. “He has played at the highest level of soccer in our country.”
He’s signed a 2016 national letter of intent early because he plans to graduate from Johnston in December and join the Mavericks for the spring 2016 semester.
“I was always going to go to college for at least a year or two,” Ibisevic said. “We’ll see what happens after that, if I get any offers or anything.”
Omaha plays in the Summit League of NCAA Division I and finished 10-5-2 last fall.