Saturday, July 19, 2008

Interview with Matias Cordoba

Interview with Matias Cordoba
Below is an interview with Matias Cordoba, the former RSL midfielder loaned from Argentinos Juniors who recently chose to leave the club to return to his homeland after a disappointing start to the season that saw little playing time for the young player.
Special thanks to Bill for his much appreciated translation efforts.

1) Matias, how did you first get into contact with RSL? My first impression (of the club) was good – people that work, good people, hard workers, who had a concept of soccer a little different than that to which I was accustomed but that loved soccer like me and the Argentine people.

2) What was your professional career like in Argentina? My career began in the lower divisions of Argentinos Juniors, I debuted in the first divisiĆ³n with the club; later I moved to Tigre (also in the first division) where we finished second in the league and from there I went to RSL one month later.

3) What were your initial thoughts about coming to MLS, and moving to the United States? I knew that soccer was developing, (that it was) different from Argentina from the point of view that in my country you are born with a soccer ball under your arm and in the US the game is recently becoming more ingrained in society; within a few years it could become important.

4) Did you have any discussions initially about what RSL thought your role would be? I signed with RSL because they told me I would play often and I would be important to the team, which was my motivation to sign with MLS, and when this did not come to pass, I decided to move back to my country.

5) Do you feel that you are naturally a two-way player, or more of an attacking player? I adapt myself to whatever the club needs, but I never felt that neither the coach nor anyone else had the confidence in me that every player needs, which hurt me, (because) I know I could have been important to my teammates but I was not permitted to demonstrate it.

6) Are you most comfortable playing centrally or out wide? I prefer to play in the middle because my strength is having the ball, such as playing as the “double 5” (number 10), though I also felt comfortable on the outside in those games where I was selected to play.

7) What were your expectations with how you could help RSL? With my strength, distributing the ball. Perhaps if the staff had shown confidence in me I would have demonstrated my skill. I always wanted to play with Javi Morales because I think we could have made a great pairing.

8) Did you know any of the other Argentine players prior to arriving in Salt Lake? Yes, I knew all about the team, I was motivated, but the motivation left me when they did not fulfill the promises to be a key player.

9) Garth Lagerway reportedly mentioned early on that you were “a disappointment to this point”, how did you react to this? Did you feel that this was a fair opinion at that point? No, it was not fair, and Garth apologized to me at that time; I had gone some time without training and the guys at RSL had been at it almost a month, so he needed to be patient, but I brought it up with him and he seems like a good person, even though it makes me mad to this day.

10) Both Garth and Jason indicated that you were struggling with your fitness early on with the team, do you feel like this was accurate? They might think it is natural to be able to run and run, but I think differently: in the best leagues in the world it is the ball that does the running and not so much the players, but you have to respect what they thought. I think my fitness was good, and that they used fitness as an excuse to avoid saying they didn’t like the way I play.

11) How did you feel in general about your interactions with the coaches of RSL? Did they give you a fair chance in your opinion? No they did not give me enough chances, I think I deserved much more, but they make the decisions and you have to respect that. They are good people and do good work, and I wish them the best in their coaching careers.

12) It was recently reported in the Salt Lake Tribune that “The 23-year-old played in only seven games, mostly as a reserve, because Kreis didn't believe he could handle the wide-ranging duties of his position as well as starters Javier Morales or Andy Williams. "It was a little bit to do with the athleticism," Kreis said.“ How do you feel about that assessment? I do not agree with this assessment, I think I could do everything Kreis thought I could not, but as I said before, I don’t think Kreis ever liked the way I play. But these are preferences, and I also did not like the way he built the team but I respected it.

13) What made you make the final decision to return home? RSL did not fulfill what they said, which was that I would play a lot of minutes, and I want to grow as a soccer player and play in a competitive league that might be a showcase for the top flight. Beyond this, I was alone and missed my family, and did not feel like an important part of the team.

14) What do you think about the level of play in the MLS after experiencing it firsthand? It is different than what I was used to, very physical, and you run a lot but a number of teams try to play good soccer. For example RSL has some very skillfull players who know how to play well and I think that based on individual talent, it is the best club in the league.

15) What do you see as the main differences between the play in the MLS and the play in Argentina? In Argentina you have a league structure with lower divisions where basic soccer concepts are taught that in MLS are taught later when rookies form part of the first team, so you lose years of apprenticeship. Another difference is that in Argentina the ball does more of the running and you arrive at the opponent’s goal following more elaborate build-ups, but soccer is similar in all parts of the world.

16) What were your living arrangements? A house? Apartment? Alone? Roommates? I lived in an apartment (near Irvine School House) very near Matias Mantilla, Fabian Espindola, Javier Morales, and Jamison Olave; we did a lot together to better pass the time.

17) Did you make friends outside of those related to the team? Yes I made some friends, both within the team and outside, which made me happy because it is important to have friends wherever you are.

18) How did you like living in Salt Lake City? Very calm, very beautiful city, it was very wonderful for me to live these five months in Salt Lake City.

19) When you weren’t involved with practice or games, how did you spend your time? I got together with my friends Jamison, Matias, Fabian and Javier to play Play Station, and we often had tournaments in which Tyno Nunez also participated. We also went to eat. Towards the end I did things most often with Jamison, with whom I formed a good friendship.

20) What are your thoughts about this current RSL team? It makes me happy that they are doing so well in the league, because to me they have one of the best teams in the league. I always follow the games by internet and I am glad when they get good results, and I hope they qualify for the playoffs because my ex-teammates deserve that.

21) Do you have a favorite player on the team? In the league? There are good players in the league, and I would name Donovan who surprised me, also Sasha (Kjlestan), but the best in the league is Marcelo Gallardo by far. On RSL I think many – almost all – thought Javier Morales is having a terrific run of form, he is a great player, also Fabian Espindola is very important to the team while Jamison and Matias are two very good defenders. But in general there are many great players like Wingert, Beckerman, Borchers, Kovalenko, Rimando and various others.

22) Which player in the world do you try to model your play after? Marcelo Gallardo has always been a model for me to follow, I have watched him since I was young and he is fantastic. Right now I also very much like Sneijder, Cesc, Iniesta, and Messi.

23) What was your favorite city that you visited in the US? I liked Las Vegas and Washington very much.

24) What was your favorite part of this experience? To visit US cities and have such a good relationship with my friends, to whom I send greetings and best wishes. When I decided to leave I left quickly because I don’t like goodbyes, but they were good friends and I did not say goodbye properly.

25) What was your least favorite part? To not be an important part of the team.

26) What have you learned from this experience? Everything is a learning experience, and I learned a lot about life and soccer which will help me always.

27) What are your current plans for soccer? Do you have a team? Yes, I am training hard with my former team Argentinos Juniors and hoping to begin the season here or with another team in my country.

28) Do you see yourself ever playing or living in the United States again? Play, perhaps when I am older if I have the chance to come back and show what I can do, but right now I am concentrating on playing here in Argentina and to do so well to move to one of the best leagues. As for living there, I don’t think so because when I stop playing I plan to stay in my country, but I might travel to the USA to visit, because I think it is a great country.

29) Are there any final thoughts you would like to share with fans of RSL? Just thank you for the kind words which cheered me up and the good that this made me feel, and I hope my teammates bring you great joy by winning the league this year. And I send greetings to my teammates and say to them ‘thanks for everything, I will never forget you.’