Thursday, September 11, 2008

FOR REAL: Will Johnson - Pt 2

11. Were you shocked or surprised to be in the starting lineup once you got here? Yeah, a little bit. I’d done a full preseason in Holland and kept myself fit, so I knew fitness-wise it was going to be okay. It worked out well where they had a little bit of an injury to a few guys here and there, and maybe some not-so positive results on the road. I think you are never guaranteed anything, and I think I got my opportunity a little earlier than expected, but I think so far I’ve done okay with it, and the team’s been doing well. I’m happy.
12. How do you think you can help the club? A lot of ways. You know I think I’m a young guy that can help going in the future, but I am also a young guy that’s played a lot of games and has a lot of experience, so I don’t really consider myself a young guy anymore. I just want to do whatever’s asked of me by the coaching staff.
13. You were initially described, at least in the media, as a striker who can play a little bit of midfield, but so far you’ve been playing in the midfield and look pretty comfortable there. Where do you feel most comfortable? I guess when I played for Chicago I played a little more forward than midfielder, but in Holland we played a lot of 4-3-3, not the same as here, but similar. So I sort of converted into not an attacking midfielder, but a midfielder with attacking qualities and the way that we play in this formation in Salt Lake it lets me use all of my qualities where I can get up and down the field. I can help defensively, and hopefully I can support the attacking guys and get a few goals for us.
14. So what do you think are your key strengths? I think I always work hard. I’m good with the ball. I take a lot of pride in not giving away the ball cheaply. I do whatever it takes to help the team win, and when I get in the final 3rd I’ve shown over the years that I can get a few goals to help out the teams that I’ve played for. So those are the 4 or 5 things that are my main qualities.
15. You’ve had some success with the Canadian Youth National Team, what have you taken from those experiences? Yeah a lot. You know I played a ton of games when I was younger for the under-20’s, and under 23’s and a few times for the first team. Where a lot of guys in the MLS don’t get to play that many games, I got to play that many games – I think 30 - 40 games. Those were 90 minute games against good oppositions. And when you play for Canada most of the time you’re not the better team so you get to play against some good players. I got to play in two World Cups, both of which didn’t go too well. But sometimes you learn the lessons a little easier when you get beat. So I learned a lot playing with those guys.
16. You also played a few times with the senior national team in Canada, which means that you are cap-tied obviously, was that a conscious choice or just a matter of opportunity? More the opportunity opened up and I did not have US citizenship, and I wasn’t sure I was going to get it playing abroad so I took the opportunity to go play for the Canadians. So obviously I cap-tied myself.
17. How do you feel that the quality of the MLS is compared to other leagues? I tell you what it’s a lot better than when I played for Chicago. I think the league’s getting good. It’s getting a lot more attention in Europe which I’ve seen being over there. I think it’s just exciting the way things are moving forward in the league and in this country playing soccer, and I’m excited to be part of it.
18. How do the training sessions here compare to the training sessions in Europe? They are similar. I think the game side of things is similar. I think in Holland they do a lot of ball work. They do a lot of warming up with skill work. They take a lot of pride in passing drills, and sort of the beautiful football game that they like to play. Whereas here we like to do more games 4 v 4, 5 v 5. I think it’s similar to the English style. I think the Dutch are pretty unique in the way that they train on the technical side.
19. What’s your view of this team, how it’s constructed and how they are playing? Yeah I think it’s a good team and a great organization. It’s got a lot of good support pillars. It’s got a lot of good veterans in the locker room. Obviously having Jason, Robin, BJ, and Jeff – all these guys who have played in the league, they understand what this league is about and that’s an important part of it. Like I said before, I think the future is bright for this organization.
20. Had you played with any of these guys before? Andy Williams was at Chicago when I was there for the first couple of months. I played against the US U-20 guys quite a bit – Nate, Tony and Chris.
21. Are there any teammates since you’ve been here that you’ve bonded with? Yeah, all these guys. To be honest I just came in and fit right in. So it’s been good.
22. What do you like to do outside of soccer? Well a lot of things. Over the last couple of years I really haven’t had a lot of spare time. I like to see, my brother plays for Western in college, so I like to go see him when possible. My little sister plays as well. The last two years I haven’t had any time to do anything except hang out with my family and friends.
23. What about travel, is there anywhere you like to go either in the US or in Europe? Last year at the end of the season I got to Florence to see some friends that were studying abroad, so that was quite an awesome vacation. And then over the summer I got to go see Michael when the US played Barbados in World Cup qualifying so me and my girlfriend flew from Chicago to Los Angeles and caught that game. Basically even in my down time everything revolves around soccer – if I’m not playing I’m watching.
24. Anything else you’d like to tell the fans? No not really. Just enjoying my time and looking forward to hopefully a successful time in Salt Lake.