Question and Answer with Under-17 Defender Zach Herold
U.S. U-17 MNT defender Zach Herold has spent more than two years in U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program, but has only recently taken on a larger role for the team. With nine starts and 11 international appearances in 2009, the Florida native looks ahead to his opportunity to play in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which kicks off in just a few days.
ussoccer.com: The team has put a lot of work into getting here, so how does it feel to finally be in Nigeria?
Zach Herold: “I’ve been in Residency for about two years now, so it feels good to actually realize that it’s here. It feels great. We have been training hard and working hard every single day in Bradenton and doing what we have to do to get here. We have been on a lot of trips so we have experience against good teams and we have a good confidence about us right now. Not cockiness or a sense of accomplishment at this point, but a good sense of where we are as a team.”
ussoccer.com: How have you and your teammates been settling into Nigeria?
ZH: “Actually it’s been going really well. FIFA and U.S. Soccer have taken really good care of us here and it’s been really good so far. We’re really adjusting well and just getting used to our surroundings. I’ve never been anyplace like this before but it’s great to learn about a whole new culture and it should be a great experience.”
ussoccer.com: When you were growing up and falling in love with soccer, did you ever imagine playing on the world stage someday?
ZH: “I never really thought that I would ever be in a place like this with this opportunity in front of me. The opportunity to represent my country is great and it’s something I’m very proud to do.”
ussoccer.com: What are you most looking forward to about this experience?
ZH: “Just to have the experience of playing and representing my country in the World Cup, which is not something a lot of people get to do. I’m just looking forward to that chance and going out there to have fun and enjoy it.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve grown into a pretty big role over the past few months with the team, what has that process been like?
ZH: “Since qualifying I have been working really, really hard, as we all have. I just wanted to do everything I could to get out on the field and I think I have tried to take advantage of the great opportunities I’ve had over the summer.”
ussoccer.com: How will you be preparing over the next couple days leading up to the first match against Spain?
ZH: “Well, we actually are on our way to a video session with the coaches so there will be some of that. We’ll make sure we know what we need to focus on, we also have a few more training sessions between now and then to try to iron a few things out, but we have been working for two years now so at this point it’s all about making sure we’re sharp.”
ussoccer.com: What was the best trip you’ve ever been on?
ZH: “My favorite trip was actually our trip to England just a few weeks ago, but I think this one will top it. It was great because my Mom was able to go with us and we stayed and trained at Chelsea, which is my favorite team. It was an awesome experience to see some of my favorite players. It was just really cool to be in that environment.”
ussoccer.com: So who are your favorite players?
ZH: “Didier Drogba is one of them, and Michael Essien. I love Nemanja Vidic and John Terry, who I think are two of the best in the world in the position I play. I try to live up to their expectations and would love to be at that level someday. Vidic and Terry just work really hard and never give up on anything. That’s one of the biggest things that coach tells us is to never give up, and I think they’re good role models for that.”
ussoccer.com: What’s your favorite soccer memory?
ZH: “Well, I wouldn’t call it my favorite memory, but the memory that stands out the most was playing for my club team. I was on the national team at the time, but was home playing for West Pines United. It was a penalty shootout, and I stepped up and missed. I remember how that felt and I know that I never want to feel that way again. I try to use that experience to make sure that I’m always sharp and to make every play count.”