US SoccerUS Soccer

w/ U-20 MNT forward Will John

Going by size (5’9” and 145 pounds), it’s hard to picture U.S. Under-20 MNT forward Will John as a Big Man on Campus. But it’s all about the surroundings. When you go to a school like Saint Louis University that doesn’t have a football team and the soccer team draws thousands of fans for each home game, not to mention the fact that you’re the starting forward as a sophomore and lead the team in scoring, well, the BMOC tag knows no size requirements.

Through nine games this year, John has notched a team-high seven goals (including two game winners) and will be looking to bring his scoring touch to The Home Depot Center in January 2005 when the U-20s attempt to qualify for the FIFA World Youth Championship for a record fifth straight time.

As much as most kids dread going back to school, I would have to say that with college I disagree. Schoolwork can get to be pretty stressful when you put soccer in the mix, but after a while you figure out how to balance everything. The city of Saint Louis is very pro-soccer, so it’s too bad they don’t have an MLS team because I think they’d get a lot of support. But then again, I guess that’s all right because the soccer enthusiasts support us instead.
We’ve led the nation in attendance three out of the last five years. Everyone knows that playing at home in front of thousands of people is a huge plus. This year we get to enjoy that a whole lot more than we did last year. Last season it seemed like we were gone every weekend. I’ve never spent more time on the East Coast in my life. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, but our campus is nice and now that I live in an apartment it at least feels more like home than a dorm room.

Just about everyone on our team lives with another teammate. I live with two guys from Texas. We’ve dubbed our apartment ‘Paradise Palace,’ basically because everyone that steps in says it’s ‘like a dream.’ One group of guys on our team has earned the name ‘Grandma’s Place’ for their apartment. Rumor has it their couch is from the 1800’s and until I walked in I had never come into contact with a TV that was twice my age. They even have an old rotary phone but I don’t think they even know how to use it. No one understands why they would furnish their apartment with antiques, but our team is full of interesting personalities.

We have a lot of fun as a team and pranks are common. If you come home and you find your room rearranged or your heat turned up to 90 degrees or down to 40 degrees all you can do is laugh and plan how you’re going to get them back. There are always the usual suspects, and it becomes a guessing game until you finally pinpoint your culprit. You might even prank the wrong guy as revenge, but as far as our team is concerned, it doesn’t really matter as long as you pull off a successful prank.

I love music and anyone that knows me understands that I have headphones on absolutely all the time. You’re rarely going to find me walking to class without headphones on. I get all sorts of mixed messages from people about the headphones. Truthfully, these are not your everyday headphones, they’re massive, and the reason for that is they have better sound quality and incredible bass. Some people think I’m shy, some think it’s because I’m too stuck up to talk to anyone, and some people just think that I’m unbelievably weird and anti-social. In all reality, I really do just love music, just like I love soccer. I thought it was pretty funny when I heard all the things being said, but here at college when you have people from all ethnic backgrounds and from all parts of the country and the world, it’s to be expected.

There’s no football team here and because of the history of the previous soccer teams at SLU there’s a lot of focus on winning and high expectations for the soccer team. Our school holds the record for the most national championships and everyone is wondering when that next one is going to happen. I’ve been asked before in interviews if that’s something we dwell on, and to be honest it really isn’t. Every single team wants to win the national championship and of course we do. Hopefully, this can be the year we bring the championship back to Saint Louis.”