Michael Bustamante is arguably the greatest soccer player in Chelsea High School history. Following his All-Scholastic career at Chelsea High, he starred for Division 1 Boston University before being drafted by the New York Red Bulls of the MSL.
Following a professional stint with the Red Bulls, Bustamante, 29, is entering a new phase of his career. He is the new head coach of the Boston City FC team that plays its home games next door at Harry Della Russo Stadium in Revere.
“Coaching a little bit different than playing,” said Bustamante, who is of Colombian descent. “You have to set up the game plan and make adjustments during the game.”
Bustamante used to play for Boston City, a team made up of elite soccer players.
“It’s great to return and be in this position and work with the players,” said Bustamante.
He has fond memories of his superlative four-year career at Chelsea High.
“I enjoyed all of my time there,” said Bustamante. “There are a lot of great people in the city. The superintendent (Dr. Mary Bourque) used to be the dean of students when I was in middle school. Principal Ron Schmidt was an assistant principal when I was in high school. And Coach Mick [Milutinovic] is still there doing great things for Chelsea soccer. Chelsea is place that is special to me.”
He stepped up his game and was a force at midfielder for the BU Terriers, though he had to redshirt one year due to an injury. “Other than that setback, it was a fantastic four years,” said Bustamante.
Following his career at BU, Bustamante realized his dream of being drafted by a professional soccer team as a fullback, a position he had never played before.
“It was something unreal,” recalled Bustamante. “I remember the day of like it was yesterday. At the time, I was working for the REACH Program in Chelsea. I was at work and the Red Bulls called me about 4:30 p.m. and the next thing I knew I was talking to the head coach of the Red Bulls.
“They said, ‘We need you to fly down to Florida tomorrow to join the team in training,’ – “and the next day I was there.”
Bustamante played pro soccer in front of tens of thousands of fans at the Red Bulls’ stadium in New Jersey.
“It was a beautiful stadium and I’ll cherish that time for the rest of my life,” said Bustamante. “The team had great fans. The Red Bulls will always have a close place in my heart. I appreciate what they did for me and my family.”
Bustamante has adopted a new philosophy as the Boston City coach, bringing in college players from the Boston area. “I’m here to get a group of guys together and jell as a team,” he said.
He hopes to stay in coaching and continuing to give back to the game.
“I’m here to learn and continue to grow,” he said. “I think I’m in a great place to do that. As I continue to further my career, my hopes are that I eventually get to coach at the pro level.”
Bustamante said he speaks frequently with his sister, Sandra Bustamante, 33, a former CHS basketball star and popular student who went on to attend BU and MIT and is now living in London. “She does research for a university in England,” said Michael.