Although Quaranta's transition has been seemingly smooth, Rongen can't help but wait for the other boot to drop. "We'll ruin him in two years," he says with a chuckle. "When they're young, they're naive, and when they're naive, they're honest, and when they're honest, they just play because they love the game. I'm sure we'll screw him up somehow. He comes in with a smile on his face every day-win, lose or draw—because it hasn't dawned on him that this is his job. You wish that innocence could stay with those players, but we would be fools to think it will."
For now, though, Quaranta is only a kid, well-adjusted but blissfully ignorant of the significance of his accomplishments. His typical day entails sleeping as late as possible, going to practice, seeing his tutor, getting back to Baltimore around supper time and hanging out with friends at night. (Although he doesn't attend classes, Quaranta is on pace to earn his diploma from Archbishop Curley next year, and Project-40, a development program funded by MLS, Nike and U.S. Soccer, will give him $37,500 toward his education.) He's in no hurry to grow up, and why should he be? He earns between $25,000 and $50,000, dines on home-cooked meals and has no chores to speak of other than to set up and score goals.
His teammates aren't too keen to see Quaranta age quickly, either. "He adds a lot of excitement because he's so enthusiastic," says Ammann. "It helps us remember our youth. It's a great experience for him—and for us older guys."