Thursday, August 14, 2008

FOR REAL: Andy Williams

1. Who is your favorite MLS player? Jaime Moreno. He has been the best player that MLS has ever brought in.
2. What about in the world currently? I’m a big Francisco Totti fan, but I also like Messi. Up until the point that Messi got hurt last year I thought he was the best player. I’m not a big fan of Cristiano Ronaldo – too much extra stuff with him.
3. Has there been a player that you’ve felt like you’ve modeled your game after? I don’t think so.
4. What about a hero growing up? Roberto Baggio. I used to love him a lot. In Jamaica we used to get the Serie A a lot. Every Thursday night the Serie A show. I loved the way he used to play, especially the way those big guys used to try to chop him down.
5. What do you like most about living here in Salt Lake? It’s a great place to raise a family, first and foremost. When I first found out I was coming here I wasn’t happy, like everyone else I think. Coming here with my family it’s been the best thing for me. It’s the best place I’ve been apart from Miami. But in Miami we were just starting dating, my wife and I. I couldn’t ask for a better place to raise my kids.
6. In the off season what do you spend your time doing typically? Last season we had that offseason training so I stayed here. It was the worst offseason for me, but it paid off. There were four or five of us that stayed here. Dan Barlow, our fitness coach, he stayed here so I got to work here.
7. Do you typically spend a lot of time in the offseason here? Well the kids are in school typically until like the week before Christmas and then to go back to Jamaica for all of us is very expensive, so we just stay here and enjoy our Christmas.
8. What has been the highlight of your career in the MLS, so far? Probably the year with Chicago I think it was ’03 or ’02. We went to the MLS Cup finals and won the Open Cup.
9. Do you have one individual highlight? Probably when I was with New England I won the MVP that year, and I had a decent year that year. I scored above my normal amount of goals and had my average amount of assists.
10. What about that long-distance goal last season how did that rank? And it wasn’t even goal of the week. It wasn’t even a nominee. Personally for me that was just a lucky shot. I did it on a whim. It’s not like I saw him before – I don’t know what I was thinking I just hit it. Probably the most important goal for me was that same season for Chicago we were playing our first playoff game at DC United and I scored from like 30-35 yards out. The ball was bouncing and I hit like a line-drive and scored the first goal and we won 2-0 going back home. That was a huge win for us.
11. What’s been your hardest moment as a professional? Every offseason. When you don’t make the playoffs. Coaches, the staff, the GM looking to improve the team. You know you are never safe. Anything can happen. A trade can happen at any time. That’s probably the hardest thing. You are always wondering.
12. How do you deal with that do you try to keep up with all of the rumors, do you try to stay away from it? Not really. Me and my agent are pretty cool and he keeps me updated on almost everything. But you know some days you just get a phone call and they say “Can you come in, we need to talk to you”, and it’s never nice when you hear that.
13. And you had a stretch there where you heard that too often? Yea, it wasn’t even like a yearly thing, more like every two years. That’s what happens when you don’t make the playoffs.
14. So you’ve been here awhile now, and the teams kind of turning around and doing well I assume that gives you a lot of relief. It’s too early – there are a lot of games left, but the way we have been playing it’s like night and day from the first couple of years. It’s just about the way the FO and the coaching staff went about picking certain type of players to complement each other and it’s paying off.
15. During the first three years there were some pretty low times for the team, was there ever a time when you wanted to just get out of here. Seriously no, it’s gonna sound cliché but I just felt upset about the fans. We were ranked like in the top 3 in attendance for the first 3 years and we were a losing team. I can’t imagine if we were half as much better than we were, the attendance would have been even better. That’s what I was frustrated about. I’d go down the streets and people would say “oh you play for Real and you guys aren’t so good”.
16. What are the differences that you see with coach Kreis and coach Ellinger? Jason stresses a lot more fitness than John did, even though we did do fitness. You know Jason throughout his career he was always one of the fittest guys on the team, that is one of the reasons that we had the offseason workout. He wanted us to come in 90-95% fit, so we didn’t have to work on fitness, we could work on playing soccer during those first two weeks of preseason. And it’s working so far, we’re not burned out yet.
17. Is it easier or harder to play for a coach that you played alongside? At first it was kind of difficult but Jason, he spoke to me and he asked me how I felt about him coaching. And I told him that what I want is someone that’s honest, and if I’m messing up, tell me I’m messing up. Forget that we were friends or teammates, and just be honest. That’s the most you can ask from any coach. To tell you what you need to do. If you’re not starting – to tell you what it takes to get into the starting lineup. I mean I respected him as a player and a captain first, and it’s been the same thing as a coach.
18. I assume that there is a difference in the attitude of the team? Well the attitude is solely on Kyle Beckerman before he came I think most of the guys weren’t putting out the effort. Kyle he talks a lot more and says a more stuff that’s on his mind, but it’s the right stuff to say and his attitude. And you’ve got Dema another one…those guys don’t want to lose and its kind of rubbing off on everybody else.
19. Is there more confidence too as well? Well its slowly coming right now. At the beginning of the year we knew we were a good team - we played well, but we weren’t getting the results. We were coming up short whenever we were playing and the last 3 weeks the confidence has been getting used to being one of the top teams in the west. It’s not there yet, but hopefully next week against the top class team in the MLS.
20. This is a pretty important game – it’s a battle for first place, it’s a chance to show that we can win on the road, and it’s also against the team to shoot for in the MLS – how does the club feel? Do they feel pressure to win this game? No, we don’t feel pressure at all. You know the only problem that I have is that we’re coming off a 2 ½ week break. It’s just unfortunate that it’s coming at this time. And we’re not going to have Jamison either so you can’t say we’re at 100%, and there not at 100% either without Holden and Ianni. It’s pretty huge for us, but it’s not a must win for us. It’s important for us to show that we’re within that reach of Houston this year.
21. One of your obvious skills is the ability to possess the ball and control it, where did that come from? The only thing that I can think of is when I was young my dad was a professional and played for the national team. But the first sport I started playing was tennis, because he played it all the time. Probably when I was 5 or 6 my mom showed me some clippings of my dad from soccer. So I decided I wanted to play. He said I was pretty good for someone who hadn’t played. I would play with tennis balls, and balloons. I was always playing inside my room and used the closet door as a goal and threw the tennis balls off of the wall.
22. So it came pretty young? Yea, when I was 7-8 I’d play against 10 year olds, 11 year olds. I was always the smallest kid on the team.
23. You usually have long sleeves. Where did that come from, and what’s the story behind that? It started my last year in Chicago. It was always cold there and I started playing in long sleeves and I noticed that every time I was getting held - if they held on to my sleeve the referee would see it a lot more.
24. So it was strategy? Yea to a point, but after a while I just got used to it. I liked long sleeves, and every time I wore short sleeves it just felt weird.
25. Are you upset with Beckham for copying you? I think he started before me. He’s been doing it since ManU.
26. Do you have a pregame routine? Not really – I just listen to my Ipod. I drink coffee – Starbucks – before the game.
27. What do you get? I usually get a latte, for the last couple of months I get a caramel macchiato. I’m addicted to it. I used to hate coffee. Everyone was like “you’re from Jamaica – Blue Mountain coffee” and I was like yuck, what are you guys talking about. But for the last 3 years I’ve been into coffee.
28. Coach Kreis talked about your offseason work, and coming in very fit. Do you think you can keep that up now and do that in the future? Is that a key to your success this season? The only difference the last two years, I stopped playing for the national team. So when MLS stopped I would start playing for the national team. For the last two years I just stayed home, so maybe the work this offseason helped and got me fitter quicker.
29. What goals do you still want to achieve in soccer? Definitely an MLS cup. Being there in Chicago and being within one goal of tying San Jose, it’s still in the back of my head. I don’t care about all-star or MVP I just want to win a championship.
30. Do you have any other sports that you are interested in, and do you play them? I was interested in cricket in high school and I played table tennis.
31. Is that big in Jamaica? Yea its either cricket, track and field or soccer, so I played that. I only played it because I wanted to get out of classes. And that’s why I played table tennis too.
32. What things do you do for fun outside of soccer? When practice is done I go home and spend time with my family. My wife is a stay at home mom, so we have lots of time together. We go out to movies most of the time, you know just kid movies, we can’t – no more dating. We just stay at home and watch tv – I’m a huge reality tv fan – me and wife both are.
33. How many children do you have? I have a son from college whose 11 next week, and Marcia has a daughter from a previous marriage and then we have a 5 year old together.
34. You think that the key to success this season is personnel related more than anything? It would have to be. From 1-18 it’s the best since we’ve been here. You have a lot of guys that can come in and contribute. Before that you had a lot of guys that are starting no matter what, now it’s different. That’s been the best thing that’s happened to this team. If you look at the reserve team- we’re first.
35. How does this team compare to other successful teams you’ve played on? The only difference is on those clubs you had a big time forward. In Columbus we had McBride and Stern John; in Chicago we had Damani (Ralph) and Razov; in Miami we had Diego Serna and Chacon; in New England we had Mamadou Diallo. For this season we don’t have that big time goal scorer, the go-to guy so everyone’s been contributing; Robbie’s scoring, Kyle’s scored some, Javi, Olave last week – I’m just waiting for mine. Everybody’s been putting in and helping this year. Fabi was on fire early this year before he got hurt so hopefully he can catch on. And Robbie looks like he’s coming into form, and Deuchar is waiting in the wings.
36. You seem to be seeing more time on the pitch than in the past, do you attribute that to fitness or the structure of the team? I think it’s just the way we play and what Jason’s looking for. He’s looking for a team that controls the ball a lot more. I know with me, Javi, Kyle and Dema and even Kenny Cutler sometimes we have the ability to possess in the midfield and hopefully that’s what he sees in me.
37. It seems like at the same time, you’ve been getting back on defense more, do you feel that way and what do you attribute that to? Well the years before it’s not like I didn’t need to defend, but with Javi being such an offensive instrument you don’t need me to be another offensive person and not defending. It’s better for me to have Javi do his thing – I’m not a great defender by any means but I try my best and put in the effort.
38. Many fans have expressed concerns over your wife’s situation, what can you tell us about her situation? Well, she’s been doing okay. She was diagnosed with AML M-6 Leukemia. It’s a rare form. There is another rare form – M7. They said it’s going to require chemo plus a bone marrow transplant. So as of right now she hasn’t started chemo yet because the only problem she has is that she has been fatigued. Her blood count is a little bit low and she’s a little bit anemic. Her blood level has been basically constant for the last 4 months, we’ve been doing all sorts of test. We found out on July 3rd – that ESPN game that we had – probably an hour or two hours before. They’ve been testing her every week but they have been putting off chemo because her bone marrow is also very rare and so for her to get a match for a bone marrow transplant is going to take an extensive search. Instead of just doing the chemo now and then waiting for a bone marrow transplant they want to do it back-to-back. She goes in for another test at the end of August, so they’ll decide whether to put it off some more or if they have a match. The only problem she has had is just fatigue and the doctor said let’s just do a test. The doctor was like, “you’re fine”, “you’re young”, “but let’s just do a test”. And it came back positive.
39. Are both of you dealing with it okay emotionally? The first couple of weeks was just hard. For me it was the first person that I’ve known that’s close to me that’s had cancer. It just hit us like a brick. But she’s been dealing with it well. For me, I just go off of how she feels. If she’s miserable it makes me miserable. Once she’s okay, I’m fine.
40. How about the kids are they old enough to pick up on it? Shai-Ann’s 15, so she knows it. She kind of dealt with it rough too at first, but because of her mom, she’s been doing fine. Alexia, she’s only 5, so she just knows that her mom is sick. And she knows that one day she’s going to go to the hospital for quite an amount of time.
41. What do they say about once the match is found, is it very treatable? Well they said that with the chemo, 1 in 20 people die from the chemo. It’s still scary, but they say it’s treatable. People can have complications from it. They say it helps that she’s young
42. Well good luck to her and hopefully you get that match and start the treatment and everything will work out fine. Well, personally I think all the prayers that we’ve been getting…I don’t think if we were anywhere else in my career other than here I don’t think we’d get the support we’ve been getting – especially from my neighbors and even the fans. If I was in Chicago, Miami – I don’t think we’d have the support that we have here. I think there’s always a reason and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here.