In his second blog entry for Goal.com, the Philadelphia Union defender talks about life off the pitch in Major League Soccer.
A lot of people ask what life is like off the pitch, and it definitely has its perks.
I’ve been able to travel the world and experience different cultures playing soccer all while adding frequent flyer miles. I’ve been able to meet new friends playing the sport I love. I’ve even been able to get free meals just because I play for the Union, so you’ll never hear me complain about being a pro athlete.
However, I do want to clear up a few misconceptions. First off, I don’t know David Beckham nor can I help you meet him. I’ve only played against him, so sorry in advance. For some reason people think because we are in the same league I know him personally.
Secondly, many people think athletes have it so easy and that all we do is practice and then go home and sleep or play video games or are couch potatoes. That is also false because they forgot to include eating! All jokes aside, the majority of athletes do something productive with their downtime.
For example, I take online classes when I’m not practicing. I was fortunate enough to leave UCLA after my freshman year and sign a Generation Adidas contract, a deal that allows you to leave school early and pursue your career in soccer while having your education paid for. My mother said I could only go pro if I promised to take classes. Right now, I’m currently taking a marketing class and an applied computer technology course. Thankfully my classes are online so I’m able to coordinate it with my soccer schedule and continue to do the coursework.
Sometimes it is difficult to come home after a hard practice and have to do school work but I’m glad that I’m keeping my mind sharp and progressing towards my degree. I know other players on my team and around the league also take classes or have internships. Some players also do charity work, coach teams or even have their own businesses.
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As for the Philadelphia Union, the games have been really intense with the end of the season near. Two weekends ago, we played D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo and went 1-1, losing to our I-95 rivals but beating Houston, the team that knocked us out of the playoffs last year.
D.C. is always a tough game because of the proximity between our cities and the relationship between organizations. It seems like every time we play each other there is a fight or scuffle just because we know what it means to our fans and bragging rights. Unfortunately, we lost to our rival D.C., in a hard-fought game but it felt good to respond on Sunday against Houston and end our winless streak.
I’m happy we finally got a result because our team has worked very hard and sometimes haven’t been on the lucky end of things. Whether it was dominating a game and not being able to finish or having a lead and giving up a late goal our team had a tough eight game winless streak. Credit to the boys and the coaching staff, because we stayed consistent throughout by continuing to stick to our game plan.
And it all came into fruition against the Dynamo.
Despite being eliminated from playoff contention, as a team we are focused on finishing the season on a high note and letting the rest take care of itself. I’m sure Coach Hack is going to use these last few games to build into next season. Coach Hack is going to be able to build the team to how he sees it and will actually have a preseason to work with.
We, as players, know that we have to showcase our abilities these last few months in order to impress the coaching staff. Nothing is promised in soccer and just because we are on the team or playing now doesn’t mean we will be part of the group moving forward. Competition is high, but it is healthy for the organization because it not only pushes us individually to become better but help the team become strong for the last few games building into next season.
I hope you enjoyed reading my second blog entry. Look forward to talking to you guys again soon,