Q&A with MNT midfielder Chris Armas
The U.S. Men's National Team training camp resumed in Long Island on Tuesday, the slightly revamped group going through the paces at the NY Hota Bavarian Football Club. The team went through a spirited session in the typically hot and humid New York summer, and will hold a final session this afternoon prior to departing for Grenada tomorrow morning. The U.S. will face Grenada in the second leg of second round FIFA World Cup qualifying June 20 at the National Stadium in St. George's, Grenada. Kickoff for the match is set for 4 p.m. ET, and will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
Between training sessions, midfielder Chris Armas sat down with ussoccer.com to talk about training on his old home field.
ussoccer.com: Bruce Arena isn't the only guy making a homecoming this week. How's it feel to be home?
Chris Armas: "It's the first time that I've ever been in camp on Long Island. It almost doesn't fit, being with the national team and being home. There's so many memories. I grew up in Brentwood, east from here. I went to Adelphi University, which is 10 minutes from training. I've played so many times at NY Hota, both as a member of the club and for other teams. I'm really having a fun few days, seeing old faces. The soccer world is small, and it feels homey."
ussoccer.com: And you're back on the home field as well...
Armas: "It's almost surreal, because those fields were such a big part of my growing up, and here I am with the U.S. National Team. Alfonso Mondelo, who is hosting us at the club, was the coach of the state team that I played on. The field is one of the best on the island, and all the big games were played here. I sit back on the ride going to practice, and words won't' do it justice."
ussoccer.com: You had a great opportunity growing up in this area, with so many clubs rich in tradition and history. What was it like being part of such a great soccer culture?
Armas: "You take that for granted. You don't realize that New York was such a mecca for these great clubs. Every ethnic group has a team. The soccer was meaningful and competitive to everyone. The clubs took care of the players very well. They'd have food after games, and we'd all eat together. They tried to create a family atmosphere."
ussoccer.com: Being back in the community, does it give you a sense of pride about where you've come from?
Armas: "Countless people have told me how proud they are to see me where I am. One of their own has made it. I feel like I represent so many things. The team, family, friends and old faces. There is certainly a sense of pride."
ussoccer.com: Your pro career kicked off not too far from here either ...
Armas: "I got my pro career started with Rough Riders, and played for two years. Some of originals are still there. There were a lot of good players from the club that went on to MLS careers, guys like Giovanni Savarese and Jim Rooney. The club is certainly proud of where I've taken my soccer, and I'm proud to have played with them, and represent them as well."
ussoccer.com: It's certainly a unique experience for a player to be able to come back during his career and get to have everything all tied together ...
Armas: "It connects my real life to the soccer world. It's always business with national team. We have 30 people traveling as a group. We have fun, but it's business. Here, by day I'm at training, and by night I'm home with my wife and kid and getting a home-cooked meal. It's the best of both worlds."