Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Re-Post: 2011 MLS Draft Profile: Dartmouth midfielder Daniel Keat

The former Dartmouth product and native of New Zealand enjoyed a strong showing at the 2011 Major League Soccer Player Combine. Speaking via email last month prior to the Combine, Daniel Keat was eager for the opportunity to make the jump to the professional level.

"Obviously it is an honor to be invited to the Combine," Keat said. "I believe in my ability to play at the next level and knew that if I worked hard and played my part on the field rewards like this would take care of themselves."

The leader of Dartmouth's 2010 team, the midfielder continued the New Zealand to New Hampshire pipeline. The list includes his former teammate and current professional Craig Henderson.

"Hanover has been great to me," Keat said. "The people are really nice and Dartmouth is an incredible setting to spend college. I suppose the relaxed lifestyle and people remind me of home and made being here so easy."

Keat added some comments on his final collegiate season.

"I think in general the team made progress from day one and were building all season," Keat said. "Even when we weren't winning in the middle of the season we were playing reasonably well. We were obviously disappointed to go out in the way we did."

After his strong Combine, Soccer By Ives, in its final mock draft, tabbed Keat as an early second-round selection.

Whomever selects the midfielder will find a player willing to push himself as he competes at the professional level. Often described as a hard worker, one not afraid to make the hard tackle, Daniel Keat appears to be the type of player often found on championship sides -- a leader, a winner.

Re-Post: 2011 MLS Player Combine Profile: Notre Dame forward Steven Perry

Men's soccer at the University of Notre Dame is an appealing option for many of the nation's most gifted prep players. One can obtain an education from a first-rate academic institution, play with some of the collegiate game's most accomplished coaches and players at elite facilities in the Big East Conference and use your play on the field as a springboard to the professional game.

The only issues -- playing time. With so many top players coming to campus, finding time on the field can be difficult. But when your chance arrives, you have to make the most of it.

Senior forward Steven Perry seized upon his opportunity of extended play in 2010 and parlayed his increased minutes into a stellar individual season that landed him on several postseason teams. His fine season of course ended with an an invite to the 2011 Major League Soccer Player Combine (January 7-11 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida).

Perry, who had played in 55 contests but only started 13 games in his first three seasons with the Irish, scored 12 goals and added four assists. The goals scored were both team and career highs.

Of those 12 goals, five were game winners.

The offensive outburst, thanks in large part to the fact that the forward started all 20 matches for the Irish in 2010, allowed Perry to be recognized for several postseason accolades at season's end including All-Big East First Team and All-Great Lakes Region Second Team.

"I had the support of my teammates and coaches and couldn't have achieved this success without them," Perry said as he finished up his most recent pre-combine training session.

Unfortunately for Perry and his teammates, the season ended with an exit from the 2010 NCAA Division I Championship tournament after Dartmouth defeated the Irish 2-1 in the second round. Perry spoke about the disappointing end to the season but added that he is proud of the team's overall performance in 2010.

"We obviously had unfulfilled potential and came up short both in the Big East and NCAA tournaments, but overall in 2010 we did quite well as a team."

With the 2010 collegiate season in the books, Perry, along with teammates Jeb Brovsky and Bilal Duckett, now spends much of his time training for the Major League Soccer Player Combine. Not all invitees are able to attend the event with former collegiate teammates and the Irish forward believes this is an advantage to be exploited.

"It is a great advantage because whenever you are put in a pressure situation it is good to have your teammates there, Perry said. "We will encourage each other, offer up advice and be able to talk in between our time on the field."

Perry also turned to former Notre Dame players including Bright Dike and Justin Morrow to talk with them about their combine experiences.

"I had a chat with them about what to expect and to get advice on my playing style since they know my game," Perry said.

The Edmond, Oklahoma native will now continue to work on staying fit, keeping his first touch sharp and his finishing abilities fine-tuned. He also will look to keep mentally focused, a key ingredient to doing well at the MLS Combine.

Oh, and like many players who compete in the Midwest, he is looking forward to the warm weather of South Florida.

"I welcome it," Perry said.

Re-Post: 2011 MLS SuperDraft: Columbus Crew draft selection Rich Balchan talks about his day

With Columbus' first pick in 2011 Major League Soccer SuperDraft, the Crew selected Indiana University defender Rich Balchan.

Balchan, spoke about his reaction to his draft selection tonight via email.

"When I first heard the selection, I was very surprised," Balchan said. "Coming into the draft, I didn't really have high expectations, and I followed an approach of letting the chips fall where they may. I am just so fortunate to be provided this wonderful opportunity."

The defender also responded when asked to comment about the Crew fan base.

"In terms of the fan base, when you hear about the Crew, two things stand out: tradition and passion," Balchan said.

FYI: Re-posting interviews from back in the day.

Just migrating interviews and features from the previous blog, Soccer City FC. Cheers!

Re-Post: December 2009: Kaspars Gorkss Interview

Please note: Interview completed in December 2009

Queens Park Rangers defender Kaspars Gorkss is ready to begin the second half of the 2009-10 Coca-Cola Championship campaign; hope for one of the promotion playoff spots remains.

Gorkss is also excited for this weekend's 3rd Round FA Cup match against Sheffield United. The defender is focused on the match and ready for the challenge.

The 28-year-old, recently named the 2009 Latvian Football Player of the Year, took time to answer several questions about the season and the FA Cup match for Football London via email.

Q. The club sits midtable right now. Are you happy with the QPR's performance at this point in the season?

- No not really. We had some good spells, but in general we HAVE not been consistent enough. With the squad we got we should be higher in the table. But its more than 20 games left and we still have the time to improve and get at least to play off places, which is our goal now.

Q. And are you satisfied with your individual performance thus far?

- Not completely. Last year we had one of the best defensive records in Championship, but this year we've been struggling to keep clean sheets and we are conceding too many easy goals. So as a defender I can't be completely satisfied with my own performance.

On the other hand I scored my first goal for QPR which was very nice. I was getting far too much stick from my teammates for not been able to score for nearly 18 months.

Q. What players are the toughest to mark in the Championship?

- There are a lot of good strikers in Championship, but toughest one I have played this season against was Newcastle's Andy Carroll.

Q. The club has Sheffield United in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. Are you excited about the match?

- There always certain buzz around FA Cup. It's the oldest football competition in the world with great history.

Having a good cup run you get opportunity to play against top teams in the country. And as a player there's no better experience than to play against [the] best players in England.

Q. Have you had time to reflect on being named the 2009 Latvian Football of the Year?

- For me it's a very big honor to be named Latvian Footballer of the Year. But I don't get too carried away with this. I would be much happier if Latvian National Team managed to qualify for 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Q. Are you looking forward to Latvia's Euro 2012 qualification?

- Very much so. We had a good run in qualifiers for World Cup 2010, when we just missed out on play off place.

So I can't wait for next qualifiers and maybe make the next step by getting to Euro's 2012.

And now for some off the pitch questions...

Q. Favorite place to eat in London?

- I don't really have a favourite restaurant. I love my wife's cooking at home and if I go out for something to eat, I always try different restaurants for new tastes and experiences.

Q. What music do you enjoy?

- All kind of music. Everything from alternative to r'n'b to classic music.

And I'm still learning different new type[s] of music from my teammates. Right now they are my biggest influence in my music choices.

Q. What do you miss most about living away from Latvia?

Mostly my friends and family. That's really it.

I enjoy living in London and I have everything I need right here.

Q. Where do you prefer to go on holiday after the season ends?

- I always go back home to Latvia. In summer the weather is not too bad there and thats the place where I find it easiest to relax and prepare for the next season.

Re-Post: December 2007: Wake Forest midfielder Patrick Phelan

Editor's note: The former blog was Soccer City FC

Soccer City FC recently chatted via email with Wake Forest University's Patrick Phelan. The senior defender/midfielder was an instrumental member of the 2007 NCAA National Champion Demon Deacons who defeated Ohio State 2-1 in the College Cup on December 16.

The Deacons posted an impressive 22-2-2 record enroot to their first National Championship. Patrick has garnered several honors at the conclusion of the 2007 season including being named a 2007 NSCAA First Team All-American as well as being selected to Soccer America's 2007 First Team MVP list. He was recently named as one of the 54 players who will be attending the 2008 MLS Combine which will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from January 11th through the 15th.

SG: First Off, I want to extend my congratulations to you and your teammates regarding the season. What memories do you have from the 2007 College Cup experience?

Patrick Phelan: Thank you; it sure was the perfect way to end my athletic career at Wake Forest. I think when I look back on the College Cup there are a few things that stick out. The first memory I have is of handing the National Championship trophy to our coach, Jay Vidovich. If people around the country knew how hard he, and the rest of our staff, has worked since our loss against UCSB last season they would understand how much it meant to him to finally win a National Championship.

Another memory I have is of my teammate Julian Valentin and the bloody scar he had on his face. Having known Jules for 5 or 6 years now, I can say that was actually an appropriate way for him to end his career at Wake. He's truly a warrior and the way he puts himself, and his body, before the team was a big reason for our success of our program in the past 4 years. A final memory I have is walking out of the locker room after the game and celebrating with my family who rarely get the oppprtunity to see me play so it was very special to have them there.

SG: Did you have any reservations about making the switch mid-season from backline to midfield?

PP: I had no reservations whatsoever. I think that for me, and for the coaching staff, it made the most sense to move me into the midfield. In practice I used to have a tendency to push forward quite a bit and I felt very comfortable moving into the midfield. It also made sense for the future of the program as it would have been difficult to replace two senior centerbacks. By moving me forward, Ike Opara was able to gain a valuable year of experience which will be crucial to our success in the next few years.

SG: Now that you can reflect back upon the 2007 season what means more to you from an individual standpoint: scoring your first two collegiate goals on October 9th or being a part of the squad's fifteen shutouts?

PP: It's obviously got to be the latter of the two. It was very special to finally score, especially at our home field, but I came to Wake Forest to win a championship and scoring two goals against Appalachian State was not as vital to our success as the performance of our defense was. Posting 15 shutouts also illustrates the consistency of our defense and when you look at the difficulty of our schedule the achievement becomes even more special.

SG: You were born in Houston, Texas but now live in Enfield, Connecticut. What were you thinking during the 2007 MLS Cup?

PP: It's great to see that soccer has really taken hold in Houston. Living in New England, however, I was sympathizing with the Revolution who had come so close the past few years. I guess I was in a sort of win-win situation if you want to look at it that way; I'm good friends with a few players on each team. Nonetheless, I was more interested in the quality of play.

SG: What sort of expectations and objectives are you looking at regarding the upcoming 2008 MLS Combine?

PP: Even though I'm 22 years old it doesn't mean that I have stopped developing so I'm going to approach it as I would approach any training session and just try to get a little better each day. I am not going to be too concerned with impressing coaches or the other players. I'm thankful for the opportunity to participate in the combine and just hope that I can represent myself and my school well.

SG: Is there anything that can be said about being able to attend the combine with teammates Brian Edwards and Julian Valentin?

PP: It's very special to have them there with me. Both players definitely deserve to be at the combine and it reflects well on the university and the soccer program. To have 75% of the graduating class invited to the combine is a testament to the quality of Coach Vidovich's program. I'm sure they will both do very well and will have successful careers as professionals.

SG: Will you be in attendance at the 2008 MLS Draft or will you be with family and friends?

PP: I sure hope so but at this point I cannot say yes or no. There is a possibility that I will be in camp with the U23 Men's National Team during that time but I'm not certain on that quite yet. However, if I can attend I will certainly try to be there.

SG: I want to thank you for your time and again extend my sincerest wishes on your upcoming soccer future; best of luck at the combine.

PP: You're quite welcome. Thanks so much.

Re-Post: January 2008: U of Rhode Island midfielder Geoff Cameron Feature

This interview originally posted at Soccer City FC on January 4, 2008.

Geoffrey Cameron and several of his University of Rhode Island teammates have just returned from an early morning run on the beach. You would expect his next logical destination to be some well-maintained field. However, the harsh New England winter has forced the URI midfielder indoors as he prepares for the 2008 MLS Combine.

"It is tough for me because I am living up north in Rhode Island. You can’t hit balls outside in the grass or anything like that. I am training in a gym doing technical drills, sprint, and endurance. In the morning, I run two to three miles on the beach with a few of my teammates and then we go the gym for a technical session in the afternoon. I am just trying to stay as fit as possible. When I get down to Florida, I will have to adjust quickly to playing on grass again and I will have to get used to the warm weather."

Cameron joined the team for the 2006 and 2007 seasons after transferring from West Virginia. The Rams found team success in his first year ending with a win in the Atlantic 10 Championship and a seed in the NCAA Tournament. This year the team began slowly and never found their 2006 form. They eventually lost in the A-10 semifinals 1-0 to UMASS. URI ended with a 9-8-2 record. Cameron reflected upon his two years at URI.

“I have a lot of memories with my teammates from the last two years. We had a really good 2006 season. We won the A-10 Championship and made it to the second round of the tournament, but fell short. This year we had a tough schedule, especially our first five games. We weren’t clicking, but we pulled through the hard times and made it to the semifinals of the A-10 Tournament.”

Although the team’s ultimate goals were not reached, Cameron’s midfield work was recognized as he was named the 2007 Atlantic 10’s Midfielder of the Year.

"I had no clue! We were in Ohio at the A-10 Tournament and they announced it before the tournament started. When they said that I received the A-10 Midfielder of the Year, I was completely shocked. I got compliments from coaches after games, but I wasn’t expecting it. I tried to be consistent in every game. It was a great honor; I am sure it helped me out with being selected for the combine."

While he admits that he is anxious for the day to arrive, he is also confident that his abilities will show through once in Florida.

"You want to stand out but you don’t want to be flashy or go out of your realm. I am going to keep it simple, but also use my creativity both on and off the ball. I am going to look for a good first touch. I want to stay consistent. You have to play up to your best ability."

The midfielder is not the only Ram who will attend the MLS Combine. Forward Lukasz Tumicz also was invited. Cameron feels that having his teammate and roommate down in Florida will only work to both players’ advantage.

"We know each other so well having been teammates these last two years. We will keep each other positive down there."

Cameron committed to countless hours on the beaches of Rhode Island in preparation for the MLS Combine. Shortly, he will be playing up to his best ability with his collegiate peers under the warm Florida sun on a field of fresh, green grass. Positive thinking under such conditions will be simple.

Re-Post: 2011 Major League Soccer Player Combine Profile: JMU forward CJ Sapong

CJ Sapong is focused on his potential professional career after a successful collegiate season.

"I am trying to get to the next level," Sapong said.

The forward leaves James Madison as one of the program’s all-time players. Sapong ranks fifth in points (95), seventh in goals (37) and fourth in game-winning goals (12). He also earned four All-CAA First Team selections from 2007-10 culminating in being named the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year.

This past fall, the senior scored 12 goals, four of which were game winners, and added nine assists. He was also named as a captain for the Dukes. "I tried to bring cohesiveness to our team," Sapong said.

Now, the former JMU player will join 53 other Division I college seniors from January 7-11 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the 2011 adidas Major League Soccer Player Combine.

Sapong is excited for the opportunity and currently training for the event. He has spoken to several former combine invitees including 2010 MLS draftee Adam Welch. The two competed at Reading United AC in the PDL this past summer.

"I am confident in my abilities," Sapong said. "It's important to settle down and play well at the combine."

Re-Post: 2010 NCAA Player Profile: Slippery Rock's Greg Blum

Slippery Rock goalkeeper Greg Blum, a two-time first team All-PSAC (Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference) selection, ended his collegiate career this fall.

He leaves The Rock as one of the program's all-time keepers. Blum started 72 games; his record stands at 46-23-4 with 21 shutouts. In 76 total games played, he allowed only 86 goals scored for a 1.15 career goals against average.

"I am pleased with my performance at Slippery Rock," Blum said via email. "I worked hard my four years here but I owe it to the players, especially the defense anchored by Tom Pool."

Blum also added an All-Atlantic Region First Team selection in 2010. The Ambridge, Pa. native has been awarded this honor during multiple seasons. "The competition in this region is top notch with a lot of nationally ranked teams," Blum said. "To be voted one of the best by the coaches means a lot. Its nice to see hard work pay off."

The Rock goalkeeper hopes to parlay his solid play into a pro career. "I would like to continue to play," Blum said.

"Coming from a Division II school is difficult but not impossible. I am in contact with some USL teams and hope to do a combined USL and MLS tryout."

The Rock goalkeeper could very well capitalize on this potential opportunity. "I hope someone will give me a shot," Blum said.

Re-Post: 2010 NCAA Player Profile: University of Washington's Taylor Mueller

University of Washington co-captain Taylor Mueller, hailed as one of the Pac-10's top defenders in each of the last three seasons, believed the 2010 Huskies season ended on a successful note even without an invite to the NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament.

"Although it's a very bitter taste after not being picked in the 48-team playoff, we had an extremely successful season," Mueller said via email.

"I was very confident going into the selection that we would be picked, and we were playing our very best soccer of the year at the end. It was a very memorable season that I would compare to my freshman year when we made the playoffs."

A tough, tireless worker on the field since his prep days at Eastlake High School, Mueller paid extra attention to his foot skills when he arrived on campus. "This was something I really wanted to improve while I was at UW," Mueller said.

"I wanted to be the best foot-skilled defender on the field. Since my freshman year I feel that I have come a long way and have improved a lot with composure and skill on the ball."

The three-time All-Pac-10 Second-Team selection helped the '10 Huskies log nine shutouts. The central defender, known for being strong in the air as well as a solid tackler went up against some of collegiate soccer's most skilled attackers.

The Pac-10 has sent several skilled midfield and forward players to professional leagues such as Major League Soccer in recent years, most notably Oregon State product and 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year finalist Danny Mwanga.

Mueller noted that Mwanga was the toughest forward he had to mark in college. "Seeing him chosen first in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft was really cool; knowing that we played against the number one pick during our season and off-season," Mueller said.

Now, the UW product hopes to make the leap to the next level, much like
former Huskies defender and current FC Dallas player George John.

"It is my preference to play in MLS, if it so happens to be in the Northwest that would be a dream come true, but playing in MLS is ultimately my goal," Mueller said.

Armenia vs. Lithuania: 4-2 as hosts hold off challengers in Yerevan

One of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities, Yerevan, played host as the Lithuania national football team fell today, 4-2 to a spirited Armenian side.

Lithuanian Karolis Chvedukas, a 21-year-old with Sūduva Marijampolė, scored in the 66' to narrow the Collective Team's three-goal advantage.

29-year-old forward, Artūras Rimkevičius added another late goal via penalty kick.

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The aim here is simple: to report, document and discuss the world football scene. From the World Cup to the Gold Cup, Football Friendlies hopes to provide footy fans with interesting and insightful posts. Cheers!