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Queries & Anecdotes with Dominic Cervi

Dominic Cervi went from a hopeful at the MLS combine to earning a spot on the U.S. Under-23 roster for 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. The 6'6" goalkeeper was drafted 12th in the MLS draft and has even had a trial with Scottish perennial power, Celtic. He takes some time during preparations for the Toulon International Tournament to answer a few questions for Center Circle about his current soccer situation.

Describe the last 3-4 months of your soccer career and how far you’ve come in a short time.
“I used to use the term ‘roller coaster,’ but roller coasters have ups and downs. It’s been more like a rocket ship for me; everything has just been going straight up. I went from not knowing whether I was going to the MLS combine to getting called into the Men’s National Team. I keep thinking: ‘where have the last four months gone?’ It’s been unbelievable so far – traveling the world and training with some great players. Granted, I don’t have an actual job yet, but it’s really been amazing.”

What do you think brought this sudden burst onto the scene?
“My sophomore and junior year of college I wasn’t as focused as I needed to be, but the summer before my senior year at Tulsa, I didn’t play at all. I stayed fit by running and lifting, but otherwise I just cleared my head. I just wanted a break and I went into my senior year focused. I wanted to go out on a high note. I wasn’t sure that I’d be invited to the combine, but when I was, I was playing well and I hoped that someone would see that. Thankfully, it was Coach Nowak who saw it!”

What do your family and friends think of this whirlwind?
“I think they’re just as shocked by everything as I am. My family gets asked all the time about how I’m doing and people wanting to know the latest. They don’t always know because I don’t always tell them everything, but they’re as surprised and happy as I am.”

How are you faring with the process of finding a team?
“I was training with Celtic for about three weeks. They’re coming here to Toulon to watch me play, so I must have done okay in their eyes. They said they liked what they saw.”

How much do you attribute that opportunity to your time with the National Team?
“A lot. I don’t think that being a No. 12 draft pick in Major League Soccer would have been enough for me to get a trial with such a prestigious club. The fact that I was on the Olympic qualifying team and got to play a couple of games in that tournament just helped immensely.”

What’s your current passport situation?
“My great-grandparents were the ones who came over from Italy. It’s actually easy to trace because it was my Dad’s paternal grandfather, so the names were easy. We’re currently trying to work through that connection to get an Italian passport.”

How did you find out about being named to the MNT player pool? Were you surprised?
“I actually found out when I received a flight itinerary in the mail. I replied to the e-mail and talked to both Alfonso Cerda [the U-23 team coordinator] and Pam Perkins [General Manager of the Men’s National Team], and they were the ones who told me. I was shocked. I didn’t really know how to react. I hung up the phone and just couldn’t believe it. I’m thrilled – it’s a great honor and I’m excited.”

In college you were known to some extent for your success in shootouts, which often don’t go well for goalkeepers. What’s your secret to stopping PKs?
“Playing NCAA soccer, I don’t really think it’s a secret as much as just being able to read the shooter. There’s a lot that goes into it – how the player approaches the ball, how their hips line up. I just take everything they do into account and try to read their direction.”

What’s your favorite thing to do in Norman, Okla.?
“Mostly just spending time with friends and family. My favorite place to hang out is Campus Corner. Norman is home to the University of Oklahoma, and Campus Corner is the most popular spot for restaurants and things like that. It’s fun to hang out there when I’m home because it’s the best place to see a lot of people at once.”

If you weren’t developing a soccer career, what would you be doing?
“I’d be finishing school with an Exercise and Sport Science degree and pursuing a physical therapy career. I’ve always been interested in learning about the body, and it’s something that I’ve been good at. Playing sports my whole life, I’ve always been able to stay aware of what’s going on with my body and sort of help myself out with minor injuries and how to handle them.”

What are the best and worst aspects of being 6’6”?
“The best part is being able to dunk. It’s pretty fun and people tend to think it’s cool. The worst so far has been the buses here in France! I’m pretty sure I’ve hit my head on every single bus ride we’ve had here. It happens in the U.S. sometimes too, but I don’t know if I’m just not paying enough attention to it here or what, but honestly, I’ve hit every bus here at least twice.”