Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from Chicago Fire and U.S. MNT forward Josh Wolff.
Wolff, whose U.S. Soccer history includes being named the first ever Chevy Young Male Athlete of the Year in 1998, is one of the most promising young players on the U.S. Men’s National Team. After a solid college career at South Carolina University, "Wolffie" tore it up in ‘98 for the U.S. Pro-40 Select squad that competed in the A-League. Making the jump to starting forward for the Fire in ‘99, the 23-year-old (he turns 24 next week on Feb. 15) led the club with 10 goals. One of the biggest catalysts for the U.S. Under-23 MNT that finished an all-time best fourth at the 2000 Olympics, Wolff started to make his mark with the full MNT last year and has shown signs of brilliance that can be expected to continue for years to come.
Center Circle: What's there to do in the thriving metropolis of Stone Mountain, Georgia?
Josh Wolff: "Spending time with my wife and dog, and playing lots of golf. Stone Mountain ain't small, despite the sound of the name. There's plenty to do. Sure, there's the occasional hillbilly -- especially when Clint (Mathis, of Conyers, Georgia) stumbles through."
CC: What's your favorite thing about Chicago?
JW: "The soccer, obviously. We've got great fans, great organization and a great team. For those six months before it gets cold for six months, we have a great time no matter what we do. I'm a big food guy, and there's plenty of great ethnic restaurants here."
CC: What is one thing the die-hard soccer fan doesn't know about Clint Mathis, your old teammate at South Carolina University? And try to keep it clean.
JW: "Keeping it clean... that's a good one. He's a got a disco ball and velvet ropes at Club Poogo in the basement of his house."
CC: Hip-hop or Rap-Metal?
JW: "Hip-hop, no doubt. Not that I'm the best dancer, but I just love the hip-hop."
CC: What and where was the last concert you went to?
JW: "Went to U2 in Chicago on their last tour. We got great seats about 30 minutes before the show right at the ticket window. It was a great concert."
CC: What's the best place you've ever visited in your soccer travels (U.S. or anywhere in the world) and why?
JW: "We went to Palermo, Sicily for the World University Games in 1997. We stayed at a club resort for three weeks and it was unbelievable. We were terribly spoiled."
CC: At the Olympics, you were known to visit the casino attached to the team hotel in Canberra and you celebrated a goal by throwing imaginary dice at the corner flag. Do we need to worry about any kind of gambling problem you may have?
JW: "(Laughs) No gambling problem. We had a casino in our hotel--what are you going to do? The rolling the dice was a bit of spontaneous celebration, but it certainly was influenced by the time we spent in Canberra. I think the casino was right next to where we ate our meals."
CC: Despite your success in MLS, you really made a name for yourself with your performance at the 2000 Olympics. What kind of experience was that for you, as far as getting a lot of attention (specifically, NBC and your sideline reporter buddy John Dockery)?
JW: "The Olympics were a big event, so we were able to do well, and we caught a few headlines. It was good to put soccer in the limelight for a little while."
CC: At what point in the Games did you think the team had a shot at advancing to the medal round and making that last stop in Sydney?
JW: "I think after the first game against the Czech Republic. We got a good result and we knew we were the better team. We saw we could compete and that gave us a lot of confidence. We didn't have a great game against Japan, but that's soccer. I think we exceeded many people's expectations."
CC: You got married just a month after the Olympics ended to your longtime girlfriend, Angela. Now almost 18 months later, how's married life?
JW: "It's going pretty well. She obviously hates this time of year, when we're away for months at a time. It's not fun being alone. She's got a dog that keeps her company a little bit, but we look forward to getting back to Chicago. So its' going pretty good so far."
CC: As a young professional in Chicago, what are your favorite spots to take your wife or have some cocktails with the boys?
JW: "We occasionally go out with the guys, but for the most part we avoid the club scene. We go to Morten's and Houston's, and bounce around on Rush Street. We head down there with our neighbors quite a bit. It's tough to keep pace with the boys on the team."
CC: Cameron Diaz or Halle Berry, and why?
JW: "I don't like Cameron Diaz. She seems very annoying to me. Halle Berry is a good looking lady, does some good acting. She's got simple beauty. She doesn't have to try and act a part, and she's very sexy."
CC: How does it feel to score four goals in a game, like you did in a U.S. Open Cup match versus the Dallas Burn in 2000?
JW: "When you score three or four goals, you're just in the right spot at the right time. You have to give more credit to the guys feeding balls. You've got to keep it in perspective. We destroyed Dallas that day. I think one goal would have been enough. I think if you add up the total yardage away from the goal, it would be like 30 yards for the four goals I scored (as Ante likes to remind me). But they all count, that's for sure."
CC: How sweet was it to score that first goal and then provide that nifty assist to help the beat Mexico 2-0 and start the final round of World Cup qualifying on a high note?
JW: "(It was) certainly a special day for me, and more importantly we got the U.S. off to a good start. Brian was injured, so I was able to go in and play a part in the big match. It was certainly the best scenario to start off a long qualifying process. I had a very similar move against Costa Rica in the Gold Cup final. It would have been very interesting to get a goal on that one as well. Very deja vu-ish."
CC: After the foot injury that kept you out of most of the 2001 season, how's your fitness at this point, and what do you think your chances are of making the World Cup team?
JW: "(My) fitness is getting there. Obviously the Gold Cup helped, but it's still a work in progress. We still have a good three or four months until the team is picked. So if I'm able to continue to improve my form and fitness in these games and with MLS, I think my chances will be good. But they're no better than the seven or eight guys competing for forward spots on the World Cup roster. We shall see."
Table of Contents
In this second issue of 2002 of U.S. Soccer’s monthly fan newsletter / e-zine, you’ll find pieces on a pair of CyberRays, a pair of Gold Cup 2002 champions, a pair of MLS Drafts and a pair of Women’s National Team coaches in the eight items listed below. Some will return next month, others will be brand spankin’ new for March.
1) Armchair Midfielder (A Look at the MLS Allocation and Dispersal Drafts)
2) DJ for a Day (w/ MNT defender Pablo Mastroeni)
3) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT forward Josh Wolff)
4) Making it in the Show (w/ WNT goalkeeper LaKeyshia Beene)
5) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT defender Brandi Chastain)
6) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Italy -- Feb. 13)
7) Point/Counterpoint (w/ current WNT coach April Heinrichs & former WNT coach Tony DiCicco)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (MLS Draft trivia)
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