U.S. vs Agentina Soccer Friendly
Soccer begins with some friendly matches and interviews!
My dad and I drove four a half hours to the game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the New Meadowlands Stadium. After watching the exciting game that ended in a 1-1 tie, I walked to the "mixed zone," an area for the press, and excitedly waited for U.S. players to walk through for interviews.
The first player, goalkeeper Tim Howard, informed me of his personal goals for the coming year.
“I want to just try to continue to play consistently and definitely without question win the Gold Cup,” he said. “That’s a huge thing for us.”
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup is an international tournament in the summer that features countries in the CONCACAF region (USA, Mexico, Honduras, etc.).
Then I spotted Juan Agudelo! A security guard pointed at me and told Agudelo, “One more question with him and then we have to go.” Even so, Juan patiently answered three of my questions.
I first asked how he balances his career with his education.
“Every time I’m in the hotel, my mom always tries to get me to do my online work,” he says. “Education’s very important, you know?”
Agudelo had some great advice for kids who dream of playing pro soccer someday.
“Work hard,” he said. “If you really want it, you can tell that you want it. Everyday you’re going to play and dribble with a ball, no matter what.”
Lastly, the teen striker commented on how the U.S. veterans have helped him develop as a player.
“I just try to copy and learn off of them,” he said. “It’s amazing how professional they are.”
As soon as I finished speaking with Agudelo, the team representative helping me get my interviews, offered to bring Landon Donovan over to me. Of course I accepted! Donavan is a legend. My first reaction was, “Wow! I’m a 14-year-old kid, and Landon Donovan is walking over to speak with ME?!” I then pulled it together, to ask my questions.
Landon first discussed his decision to become a professional soccer player.
“I always said it as a kid, but there was no meaning behind it because there was no professional league here,” he said. “As I got older, probably 15 or 16, right when Major League Soccer started, I started growing into my body, playing well at that, and thinking that maybe this is possible.”
The U.S. soccer icon also expressed his feelings toward being a role model to American youths.
“It’s something I’ve learned to take very seriously, because when you’re young, you don’t think about these things,” he said. “The reality is that a lot of people are looking up to you. I try to make sure that I conduct myself the right way and that I’m someone people want to emulate. That’s in the back of my conscience all the time.”
Landon also had some superb advice for those wanting to play professional soccer.
“Have fun,” he said. “Anything that you enjoy to that extent, you’re going to be good at, right? If you want to be successful and you enjoy it, play as much as you can. There’s time for tactics and fitness and weight lifting, but all that can come later. Have fun, use the ball as a tool as much as you can, and enjoy it.”
PHOTO: Soccer forward Juan Agudelo,18, is a rising star on the U.S National Men's Team. He stopped to talk to Scholastic News Kid Reporter Kevin Agostinelli after the international friendly between the U.S. and Argentina on March 26 in New Jersey. (Photo Courtesy Kevin Agostinelli)