Goal.com's College Soccer Professor checks in with an exclusive interview with Cal star Andrew Wiedman.By J.R. Eskilson
Andrew Wiedeman is on pace to become the first University of California-Berkeley (Cal) forward to be named an NCAA first team All-America in over forty years. He is the third all time scorer in Cal history with 27 goals. He is tied for fourth in the nation in goals per game and fifth in points per game. He was first team All-Pac-10 in 2008 as a sophomore. However, you would never know this if you talked to Wiedeman. He is down to earth and humble about his accomplishments.
"My teammates make me look great. I have great players around me, they make it easy," commented Wiedeman via a phone interview earlier this week.
While it is true that Cal is one of the most skilled teams in the country, Wiedeman is being modest. He is among the best forwards in NCAA and going to be one of the most coveted draft picks if he decides to take the Major League Soccer route.
The talk of a professional contract may have to wait another season though, as "Cal has been perfect for me," Wiedeman says. When asked to compare his game to a professional player, the 5’11 forward said, "Not to say I am at his level, but I would say Zlatan Ibrahimovic. When you watch him play, he isn’t too worried about the amount of touches he gets in his own half. He just looks to get that final touch, and that is how I play. I just want that touch to get it in the goal."
Wiedeman hasn’t had the highlight reel goals that Ibrahimovic is famous for, but he definitely has that knack to score.
He said his most memorable goal came last season at UCSB, "because they have that crazy atmosphere down there."
Cal was up 2-0 in the 60th minute before the home side got two back. Wiedeman hammered a shot home in the 103rd minute for his second goal of the game to put Cal into the third round. "They came back in the game and looked like they might pull it out," he said. "Plus, it was wet so it made for a great knee-slide celebration.”
That was Wiedeman's second NCAA tournament game-winner in two years, and marked the only defeat UCSB has ever suffered at home in an NCAA tournament match, proving that the Cal striker does have a reputation for goals in big games, unlike Ibrahimovic.
Before the season, Wiedeman was named to the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy watch-list, the highest praise that can be given to a college soccer player, which he called "very flattering," but Weideman says he's not concerned with personal achievements.
"I don’t worry about that," he said. "I want to win. If I pick up a personal accolade along the way, great, but getting some wins and getting to the post-season is more important."
Deflecting from his own distinctions, he sang the praise of his teammates. Prompted to talk about the return of Hector Jimenez, Wiedeman exclaimed, "He just makes the game so simple for the players around him. His return has been huge for the team."
Then speaking about his California High School and Mustang United club teammate and starting Cal 'keeper David Bingham replacing Stefan Frei, Wiedeman said, "Frei was a one in a million 'keeper, but David has stepped in and exceeded expectations. He has been under the microscope, and he has been more than up to the challenge."
Wiedeman has represented the United States at the international level for the U-18 and U-20 sides, but has not been a part of the national team picture since his freshman year. Wiedeman admitted that he didn't have a good camp that year, but the letdown of not making the U-20 World Cup squad is something he says doesn't bother him.
"It is always great to represent your country at any level," he said. "It is awesome to travel all over the world. It is very humbling as well, it is not like you can dominate against them.
"I just wish them the best of success (in Egypt), so I don’t look bad for getting cut from that team," he said jokingly. "I stay in touch with Mikey Stephens and (Brian) Perk." He also explained that current FC Dallas centerback and U.S. U-20 captain Kyle Davies is one of his best friends adding, "We went to middle school and high school together before he left for residency. He is the best player that I have played with."
When asked if they ever lost a high school game with that kind of talent on the field, Wiedeman laughed before admitting to some defeats. "Yeah, we did lose. This was just when we were freshman and sophomores."
But it is not all about soccer for Wiedeman. When asked about the U-20s results in Egypt, he quipped, "Tough loss against Germany. Looked better against Cameroon but I didn’t see the second half because I had class. And I do go to class."
The forward is a social welfare major; he enjoys his volunteer work with the local elementary schools. Also, he said that schooling his teammates at FIFA was one of his favorite hobbies off the field. Wiedeman and Cal open Pac-10 play this Friday (Oct. 2) against local rival Stanford which the Cal star says is a "great atmosphere."
"Students always come out; sometimes we get some of our fans over there. The stands are right on top of the field.”
Cal will be looking to start the Pac-10 season on the right foot considering how competitive the league will be this year.
"Pac-10 has been down a couple years now, but with five or six teams over .500 this year, it is going to be hard to win," Wiedenman said of his conference competition. "But when we play our game, we can play with anyone."
The Golden Bears are going to need Wiedeman to be at top form if they want to win the Pac-10 and have a long post-season, but he seems to be up for the challenge.
J.R. Eskilson writes a weekly NCAA column on Tuesday for Goal.com. Follow the College Soccer Professor at twitter.com/NCAAsoccer.
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