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Q & A: U-20 MNT Goalkeeper Chris Seitz Can Save the USA's Canadian Bacon

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team goalkeeper Chris Seitz is breaking into the international spotlight with stand-out performances in the group stage of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. His first time in the international spotlight, Seitz has shined in a draw with South Korea, and wins over Poland and Brazil, giving up just a goal per game and drawing comparisons to American ‘keepers like Tim Howard and Kasey Keller. Though at 6 feet, 4 inches, he is a big physical presence, the soft-spoken goalkeeper wants the attention and credit to fall squarely on his teammates.

Center Circle: What do you think makes this team different?
Chris Seitz: “Well we’ve all been together for such a long time. A lot of guys were together in Residency, and we’ve all been together lately. It’s a great group of guys and we play against each other every week in MLS. I think by now we all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We genuinely like each other and help each other out. We have each other’s backs no matter what, and that is an extra little edge that can help get us past other teams.”

CC: Describe your role as a leader on this team.
“As someone that can see the whole field, and with everyone in front of me, my job is to organize the guys in front of me, and keep the ball out of our area. I think that my job is to keep us in games and make the big saves when I have to. I don’t want to have too much action, and I don’t see the ball too much sometimes but that’s a good thing for us. I’m happy to be the one organizing and kind of doing what I need to do to help the team.”

CC: How did it feel to be named Man of the Match against South Korea?
“Well, when I’m named Man of the Match that means that the guys in front of me didn’t play their best game. I hope we don’t have to face that situation again, where I have to come up with some saves. But, that did happen and I have to be ready for those kinds of games, too.”

CC: What do you think is separating you right now from other goalkeepers in this tournament, your peers?
“I think just training. I’ve had good coaches for a long time now, whether it is at Maryland, Salt Lake or with Tim Mulqueen with this team. Through it all they’ve kept me focused and put me in a position to do the things I need to do.”

CC: What are your individual goals for this tournament?
“I just want to help get this team as far as it can go. You won’t shine in this tournament if you’re trying to succeed as an individual. The only way anyone is going to stand out is if you’re team pulls together and I’m willing to do that, as is everyone else on this team and I think we have the opportunity to do really well.”

CC: What do you think the team can accomplish here?
“I think we have the chance to accomplish all of our goals, which started with advancing out of the group. Now we have to take it one game at a time. Uruguay is a strong opponent, and we’re going to really have to be on top of our game the whole rest of the way.”

CC: This is the biggest stage you’ve ever played on. What is that like?
“I think that kind of stuff was in the back of my head a little bit during the first game. I think that in any big tournament that stuff will be with most players at first, the butterflies are natural. But once the game gets underway, you kind of forget about everything. After that I think our whole team settled down and you could see from the results that we got better after that first game, and probably played our best game against Poland. We’re going to try to just continue this trend and bring our best against Uruguay.”

CC: What is it like to play in front of 30-45,000 people?
“To be honest, you don’t really hear it all that much. Before and after the game you definitely enjoy it, but during the game you don’t hear individual things and you don’t have time to worry about them anyway.”

CC: What do you think you can accomplish in this game?
“Right now I’m kind of living one of my biggest goals, being here and doing as well as I can with the U-20s in the World Cup, and hopefully being here will help me in the future. After the U-20s it’s the Under-23 team, who I’ve had one stint with and I’d like to get back there on a regular basis. I look forward to that and obviously I hope to one day be able to play with the senior team. I know I have a long way to go before I get there but I’m looking forward to every step of the way.”

CC: What does it mean to you to be here with this group of players?
“It’s nice. I never went to Residency, but I’m close with a lot of the guys on this team, whether is the guys from Southern California, or the guys I play club with, Freddy (Adu) and now Nate (Sturgis). We’re all so close, there are no dark spots on this team and everyone genuinely enjoys being here together.”