Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Rookie Perspective on 'Beckhamania'

With a tsunami of media attention drawn toward David Beckham’s arrival in Foxboro this weekend, it’s certainly easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that accompanies the globe’s most popular soccer player. While the superstar’s grand entrance elicits various opinions and responses among the MLS’s senior statesmen and veterans, many of younger players’ views go unsolicited.

Well, Revsnet’s Brian O’Connell caught up with three of the Revolution rookies – Chris Loftus, Kyle Helton, and Ryan Solle- to get their take on “Beckhamania” and other topics.

Brian: When you guys first heard that he was coming here to MLS to play, what was your reaction?

Chris Loftus: I was kind of skeptical, at first. But once it kind of got finalized, I was excited. It’s good for the league. We’ll get a lot more people out to the games, and give soccer in the U.S. a little more exposure.

Kyle Helton: Yeah, I think it’s exciting, definitely, because there’ll be a lot more people obviously who want to come to the games. People who may not have even watched soccer before and now wanting to come and trying to get tickets and wanting to come to the game, and they find out that the game’s sold out and everything, and they’re really upset (at not being able to get tickets). I mean, I’m just excited to see people getting as excited as I am about the game.

Ryan Solle: Basically, they summed up everything. Maybe at first, I was a little skeptical, a little iffy about it, but at the same time he’s coming over now. And you start to see celebrities that want to hang out with him and start to come to soccer games in L.A. and I think (as a result) more and more people are starting to get into soccer and hopefully he can help the league out a lot.

Brian: Now with Beckham coming to New England – there has to be more ticket requests from friends and family, right?

Chris: Yeah, yeah definitely, especially for this game and I know a couple of guys on the team have had to get a lot of extra ticket for family and friends because a lot people want to come to the game. I guess we sold like 30,000 ticket for this game, so I think this game alone has helped us out a lot.

Brian: What kind of buzz has there been this week throughout the locker room with Beckham here this weekend?

Chris: We’re concerned about staying on top of the Eastern Conference right now. It’s not really about (Beckham coming here), we just worry about ourselves. I wouldn’t say it’s really changed at all, whatsoever in the locker room, to be honest with you. It’s just another game.
Brian: Have the coaches said anything to you guys about preparing for a game like this with all of the media attention focused on the game?

Kyle: No, I mean, I don’t think the coaches have said anything about Beckham in practice at all. It’s been pretty much get three points and play good football, and that’s about it.

Brian: As far as the camaraderie among the younger guys – you guys here are all first year players here, so what kind of things do you guys do just to encourage each other to get through the season to stay motivated?

Chris: Well I guess as a rookie class, we all live in pretty close range of each other. We do a lot of stuff off the field with each other. So anytime you have that kind of camaraderie off the field, it’s going to translate on the field as well. This week especially, all the starters only practiced a couple of times (due to the US Open Cup on Wednesday night). It’s good to play against other rookies and guy and compete against each other. The guys here are real good. We take criticism positively, and working to compete with one another on the field.

Brian: As rookies, I know you guys see a lot of your action in reserve league games. With a schedule of only 12 games, would it help if maybe there were more games to help get you more on-field playing time?

Kyle: Well I think it’s great that we have 12 reserve games, but it would be nice if we had a few more. But just with the guys that we have on our team I mean we have veterans and some of the best players in the country and everyday we come and practice (against them), and it’s like we’re playing at the highest level. So even with or without the reserve games, we’re always playing against a high-level of players.

Brian: Lastly, I know there are a lot of ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) guys here. I know that Chris and Kyle are Duke guys, and Ryan, I know you’re a Wake Forest guy. Is there a lot of teasing going between the guys from the ACC?

Ryan: Not really, I’ve played against these guys for the past four years and I’ve also played on summer league teams with them and stuff like that so even before we got here, we’ve had friendships being built in the process. It’s also just, before we stepped on the field we’d say ‘hey’ to them but once we stepped onto the field, we’re battling, and right as we stepped off the field, after the game, we’d go up to each other and catch up real quick. But I mean, right now, I believe Wake is leading this team with four guys on it, so Duke’s right behind us with three.
Kyle: But the three of us can take the four of them.

Chris: I’d definitely say that at least once a week, there’s some sort of little comment between each other, whether it’s them making it to the Final Four or us not, or us beating them in the ACC championship. I mean look at it for next year’s college team, Duke’s number two (in NCAA college soccer) in the country going in, Wake’s number four and both are number one and number two in the ACC,. All four years that I was there (at Duke) it was a tough rivalry (between the two schools). In my opinion, those (Duke and Wake Forest) are two of the colleges that play the best soccer in the ACC. I would like go down, all of us go down, and watch the Duke-Wake game whether it’s a regular season game or the ACC tournament. I’d like for all of us to go down there. I think it would be a good time.

Brian: Maybe you want to jump in there and say something Ryan…

Ryan: Yeah, every now and then you hear Marshall (Leonard) or Adam (Cristman) trying to say something about University of Virginia (another ACC school) but they’re starting to fall off.

Kyle: Like this guy (Ryan), I’ve been playing against him for the past 6-7 years; I mean we used to play against one another in high school so we always battled. So people talk about us coming here and battling Beckham, but there’s no battle like the Duke-Wake battle, you know? There’s no battle like that. So we’re ready for the (Galaxy) game. We’re excited about it and hopefully we can get a win.

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