D.C. United's MLS Best XI winger opens up about hard work and moving from the West Coast.
- Juan Agudelo
- Jozy Altidore
- Kyle Beckerman
- Tony Beltran
- Austin Berry
- Matt Besler
- Nat Borchers
- Terrence Boyd
- Will Bruin
- Edson Buddle
- Teal Bunbury
- Geoff Cameron
- Edgar Castillo
- Ricardo Clark
- Bobby Convey
- Kenny Cooper
- Joe Corona
- Sam Cronin
- Danny Cruz
- Daniel Cuevas
- Brad Davis
- Nick DeLeon
- Jay DeMerit
- Maurice Edu
- Michael Farfan
- Andrew Farrell
- Greg Garza
- Eddie Gaven
- Luis Gil
- Alan Gordon
- Andy Gruenebaum
- Bill Hamid
- George John
- Sean Johnson
- Benji Joya
- Dan Kennedy
- Perry Kitchen
- Jeff Larentowicz
- Steven Lenhart
- Chad Marshall
- Jack McBean
- Jack McInerney
- Justin Morrow
- Lee Nguyen
- Conor O'Brien
- Amobi Okugo
- Heath Pearce
- Chris Pontius
- Dillon Powers
- Nick Rimando
- Chris Rolfe
- Kelyn Rowe
- Omar Salgado
- C.J. Sapong
- Brek Shea
- Andrew Wenger
- Danny Williams
- Sheanon Williams
- Chris Wondolowski
- Graham Zusi
November 28, 2012
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF SOCCER?
My earliest probably was just playing for—you know how you play co-ed when you’re 5 and 6? I was on a team called "The Riptide" and I just remember playing. My dad was one of the coaches.
WHO WAS YOUR SOCCER HERO GROWING UP?
Growing up in L.A., in Southern California, I watched the Galaxy. Cobi Jones, players like that. I remember watching him a lot on TV, so I’d probably say Cobi Jones on the American side of things.
DESCRIBE YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE SUITING UP FOR THE U.S.
The first [time getting called into camp] was right after my rookie year and I just remember being excited. I was actually with some friends and so they were happy for me. I called my parents and let them know. I think it was a joy, but at the same time, I knew there was still a lot of work to be done and there still is. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting my first cap soon.
WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST ADMIRE IN A SOCCER PLAYER?
For any athlete, I think it’s the dedication you have to have. We obviously live a different lifestyle than most people, so you have to have dedication on and off the field.
WHAT IS THE QUALITY YOU MOST DISLIKE IN AN OPPONENT?
Some people have egos as athletes.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO YOUR SOCCER SUCCESS?
Everything you do before the game, the preparation before. As fans, you only see what happens on Saturdays or game days, but the preparation before—the video sessions, how you take care of your body.
WHAT IS ONE SOCCER SKILL YOU WANT TO IMPROVE?
Consistency. Game in and game out, I want to be a threat. As the season goes on, sometimes there are games where I don’t have the impact on the game that I should. I want to make sure that I’m a constant threat—a player that defenders don’t want to have to play against.
WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR DEVELOPMENT?
The coaches here [at D.C. United]: Bennie [Ben Olsen], Chad [Ashton], Wolffy [Josh Wolff]. It’s a tough change when you come from college here, so it’s a lot of figuring out—especially me moving from the West Coast here—so a lot of people don’t see the issues you deal with off the field. It kept me grounded, kept me working hard, so I think they know the sky is the limit for me. They keep pushing me every day, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
WHO IS YOUR CLOSEST FRIEND IN THE GAME?
Probably Rodney Wallace. We were roommates here for our first two years and now he’s in Portland. We stay in touch all the time.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST SOCCER ACHIEVEMENT?
Getting to the Eastern Conference finals this year.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST SOCCER DISAPPOINTMENT?
Injuries as a professional. My hamstring injury, my broken leg—they were tough to overcome, but I’m over them and I think they actually made me stronger as a person. But when you’re out of the game that long, you miss it.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU LEARNED FROM THE GAME?
As an athlete, it’s kind of an emotional ride: from scoring two goals in one game to not having a good game the next one. So, to keep an even keel and to always keep focused on what your goals are. Just don’t let the highs get too high and the lows get too low.
WHO ARE THE MOST TALENTED TEAMMATES YOU HAVE PLAYED ALONGSIDE?
Dwayne [De Rosario], Jaime Moreno. They’re winners. To be honest, I think that’s the greatest quality. You don’t see Dwayne doing stepovers or anything crazy like that, but his will to win is unbelievable and I think that’s what makes him a true competitor and why he’s gotten so far.
WHO ARE THE TOUGHEST OPPONENTS YOU HAVE LINED UP AGAINST?
IF YOU WEREN'T A PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
I think I would still be involved in soccer somehow. I love the game, I like being around the game, so I would be coaching in some capacity. I don’t have to think about that, hopefully, for another 10 years or so. I’ve thought about it, but I think I want to stick in this sport.
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS IN THE GAME?
I think it’s different for every person because different people have different qualities and different abilities and so, I think for an ultimate definition of success, I think it’s how far you can push your body and knowing that you’ve given everything—kind of leaving it all out on the field every game, every practice. And I think that’s how it defines you. Some players are going to score 20 goals one year and some are going to score 10, but as long as the guy who scored 10 gave everything he had, that’s success.