Samad was born in Seattle Washington. He is of mixed Lao-Khmu’ and Cham ancestry. His parents were avid baseball fans and enrolled him in little league at the age of 6. After taking a ball to the face while playing catch with his uncle at the age of ten, Samad decided to shift his focus to soccer. He was selected by his local Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the Seattle Sounders, to join their academy program at the age of 14. Samad was cut from the highly competitive program at seventeen after struggling to balance life as a normal teenager with the demands of an MLS feeder program. Getting cut ended up being a pivotal moment for Samad. His parents had recently split up and his father relocated to the New York City area. Samad decided to follow his father and to join the New York Red Bulls academy. In 2015 Samad was a starter on the Red Bulls U18 Academy team which entered the Academy playoffs as the number one ranked team in the nation.
The NCAA limits Division I men’s soccer teams to 9.9 equivalent scholarships. The 9.9 scholarships are divided up into partials and spread across a roster that typically reaches about 30 players. Due to the NCAA limitations schools typically only offer men’s soccer scholarships in the 30%-50% range. Not wanting to put financial pressure on his family Samad opted to take a gap year to further develop with the Red Bulls Academy and seek an offer that would cover all or most of the cost of tuition and living expenses.
That offer came from Marist College in 2016 and Samad joined the Red Foxes. Marist competes in the NCAA Division I Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) where Samad commanded a presence on the field. During his first year with the Red Foxes, he started in seventeen games, scored his first college goal and was named to the All-MAAC Rookie team. As a sophomore Samad started in eighteen games and scored four goals including a game-winner against Niagara University. He became an unstoppable force on the field during his junior year scoring a team-high of six goals and being named First Team All-MAAC, United Soccer Coaches All-East Third Team, and MAAC Offensive Player of the Week. Samad closed out his senior year in 2019 after starting in all nineteen games for the Red Foxes and once again being named First Team All-MAAC
On March 06, 2020, Samad signed with the New York Red Bulls II, the reserve team for the Red Bulls, becoming the first known Lao-Khmu’ American professional soccer player. He made his professional debut against Tampa Bay just before MLS suspended the season due to Covid-19. After play resumed Samad scored his first professional goal on September 23, 2020, in a game against Atlanta United.
After the 2020 season, Samad joined the semi-pro team FC Motown which is in the developmental league ULS2 that helps prepare up and coming athletes for higher-level professional play in the U.S. and overseas. Samad is early in his soccer career so be sure to check back for updates.
About this Article
Information for this article is from Thawin Choulaphan, Marist Athletics, The New York Red Bulls, Wikipedia, and the Raising Bulls podcast. Photos are courtesy of Marist Athletics and Samad Bounthong. A special thank you to Marist College Associate Athletic Director Harrison Baker.