Santino Quaranta has had no need for an alarm clock.
His three younger brothers have made enough noise getting ready for school early in the morning to get him stirring. About the time they have been heading out of the family's Highlandtown home, it has been time for him to get out of bed.
With summer here, Quaranta is on his own getting up for work.
Soccer is his career now and D.C. United, which used the eighth pick in February's Major League Soccer's SuperDraft to select him, is his employer.
Quaranta, 16 1/2 years old, is the youngest player ever to be signed, play and score a goal in the MLS.
"This is something I always wanted to do. There wasn't ever a doubt in my mind I wanted to do anything else," said Quaranta, a promising midfielder/striker. "This is my career now. Mainly, you have to be dedicated 100 percent, day in, day out, and always remember this is what you're doing for a living."
While his brothers and neighborhood pals trade in the classroom for the swimming pool and visits to the beach, he'll be making his daily trek to practice at RFK Stadium in the new Infiniti SUV he bought with his signing bonus.
Quaranta has willingly accepted the many sacrifices - missing out on proms, graduation day and hanging out in the summer. School for him is going to a tutor in Northern Virginia two or three times a week after practice, working toward his GED.
"All that is just secondary stuff," he says. "Going to the prom and stuff like that is nice, but it's just one night. I guess they remember it for the rest of their life, but I'll remember scoring my first goal for the rest of my life, too."
All those days in Highlandtown, going around the corner on Claremont Street to the field affectiontely called "the school lot" to find a pick-up game, has paid off for Quaranta, who long ago grew accustomed to being the youngest on the soccer field.
His dad, Tommy, once an All-American at Essex Community College, said when Santino was 5 he was doing things with a soccer ball other players two and three years older couldn't.
"I would just go out and knock it around with him - that's how it started," said Tommy Quaranta. "At that age, kids are just learning to run. We'd take Santino out and he could dribble and kick and shoot a ball. He could play. And then, every league he's always played in, he was always playing with older kids, so I think that had a lot to do with him excelling and playing the way he does."
When he was 8, playing for Baltimore Soccer Club's under-10 team, he scored a whopping 300 goals in a year: outdoor games in the fall and spring, with indoor in between.
After going to Archbishop Curley his freshman year and the first part of his sophomore year, Quaranta has spent the past two years as a full-time resident with the U.S. Under-17 National Team in Bradenton, Fla.
His father said, "He left at 14 and came back a man" and now, playing professionally and being back home, the younger Quaranta has a more conventional life than in a dorm in Florida.
He gets to come home every day to his dad, brothers and his grandmother's cooking, and his mom, Lisa, lives nearby.
At the same time, Quaranta also gets a chance to see the world.
He spent the first couple of weeks in April in St. Louis, helping the U.S. Under-17 team qualify for the world youth championships set for September in Trinidad and Tobago.
He recently returned from a tournament in Switzerland and Germany, scoring five goals overall to capture his second "Golden Boot" award for most goals in the "friendly" event, leading the U.S. to a third-place finish with a 5-2 mark.
So while his soccer-playing brothers - Mario, 15; Dominic, 13, and Tommy Jr., 11 - plan their summer, Quaranta is stepping onto the practice field with the likes of Marco Etcheverry and Eddie Pope, fulfilling a dream and trying to keep it all in perspective.
MLS history was made on May 9 when Quaranta became the youngest player to appear in a game, stepping onto the field in the 74th minute of a 5-0 win over New England at RFK Stadium.
On May 19 in Columbus, Ohio, he scored his first pro goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Crew: "I got a through ball over the top and hit it in the corner," said Quaranta, who scored his second and third career goals in a 3-1 win in Kansas City on Saturday.
"The toughest adjustment is always staying focused and knowing what your job is, knowing what you have to do on and off the field," he said. "It's a big adjustment from being 16 and just running around to coming here and making sure everything is fine. You mature a lot faster than any normal 16-year-old."
He thinks about that from time to time.
Most of his teammates already have families and a couple are a year or two away from being twice his age. Quaranta has imagined the possibility of being a 10-year veteran at the age of 26.