A newcomer to the youth national team system, Sam Garza made the most of his first international appearance, scoring the game-winner against Canada at the end of his first training camp in December on 2008. Two months later, Garza is part of the U.S. team that will be vying for the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Trinidad & Tobago. Garza answers 11 questions for ussoccer.com about making the most of his opportunity, remembering his first-ever international goal and one…make that three things he can’t live without in this edition of ‘Get to Know Me’.
ussoccer.com: Your first national team camp was just about two months ago. Were you nervous heading into camp?
Sam Garza: “At first I was pretty nervous, but once I got there I told myself I was just going to play and not worry about thinking too much. I was just going to try my hardest, and after that I didn’t feel so nervous.”
ussoccer.com: With such a successful high school career surely you were recruited by a lot of schools. What made you decide on the University of Denver?
SG: “I just really liked the coaching staff there a lot. Bobby Muus is from Wake Forest and he was just a great recruiter and a great coach. I have a lot of respect for him. I was also able to meet some of the other incoming freshman and I really liked them as well. We’ve all become like family there and that’s what I was looking for. It’s not a traditional powerhouse or anything but I am really enjoying the experience so far.”
ussoccer.com: Not many people can say they scored the game-winning goal in their first international match. What did that do for your confidence?
SG: “It was awesome. Canada is one of our rivals so that made it even better. We only won that game 1-0, so that definitely gave me a lot of confidence. That was on the last day of the camp but I just felt amazing.”
ussoccer.com: How did you find out you were going to be a part of the qualifying roster?
SG: “At the end of the last camp, I thought I was doing pretty well. Thomas [Rongen] told me at the end that I was going to be heading to Trinidad & Tobago and I was so excited. The first thing I did was call my parents, but of course they didn’t answer, so I called my college coach. Everyone was really excited for me. They knew I’d been working so hard. Now I have to work even harder to do well at qualifying.”
ussoccer.com: What are your strengths as a player?
SG: “I definitely think my speed is an asset. I’m one of the faster guys on the team, so being able to get that extra step away from a defender creates a lot of distance and that can create problems. I think that’s what helps me stand out.”
ussoccer.com: What is your best soccer memory?
SG: When I was a junior in high school we were undefeated, and in Texas we have pretty good high school soccer. We won the state championship and I scored the winning dribble up (ed. note: a dribble up is when a player has five seconds to score from a set distance, like the 1996 Major League Soccer shootouts). We went 30-0-0 that year, which is pretty sick. My senior year we won again and I was named MVP of the state finals.”
ussoccer.com: What is your earliest soccer memory?
SG: “It’s funny that I actually do remember this. I was about four years old and I scored a goal against my own team. I got the ball, turned and just ran past everybody! I was so happy to score that I just ran away yelling. It was so funny.”
ussoccer.com: What do you like to do in your down time?
SG: “I really like to draw. I’m taking an art class right now at Denver. It’s hard for me to just draw something. I have to look at it and I want it to be good. I try to take my time with it and I usually take about two and a half to three hours to get a pretty good picture. I love it though. I’ve always liked it but it’s really just something I do to take my mind off soccer.”
ussoccer.com: Who is your favorite player?
SG: “My favorite player is Messi, and he plays for Barcelona, my favorite team. He’s just awesome. I love watching him. He’s so quick and so small. He’s just amazing.”
ussoccer.com: Who is your favorite non-soccer athlete?
SG: “I like LeBron James and Rafael Nadal. Nadal is just the man, he’s so good at tennis. LeBron James is just amazing though, and I love watching him. His commercials are so funny.”
ussoccer.com: Last question: What is the one thing that you couldn’t live without?
SG: “Wow, there are a lot of things I can’t live without. There are just so many things, I can’t narrow it down to just one….”
After giving him three minutes to think about his answer, ussoccer.com changed the question…
ussoccer.com: Alright, what are THREE things you couldn’t live without if you were stranded on a deserted island?
SG: “Okay, that’s better. Definitely, a lifetime supply of Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits for breakfast. I get up every morning when I’m at home in Texas and get one because we don’t really have them in Denver. It has to be the meal with their sweet tea. That counts as one thing because it’s a combo. I also couldn’t live without Wendy’s. I love Wendy’s - their grilled chicken combo with bacon, lettuce and cheese and a Frosty. Gotta have the Frosty. I also can’t go without a chocolate milkshake from Braum’s in Texas. Those are my three things.”