During the January camp, ussoccer.com - with the help of all the fans on twitter - has been asking questions of the newest fraternity of eight players making their first appearance in a full national team camp. Today's contestant is Zach Loyd from FC Dallas. The native of Verdigris, Okla., is coming off a solid rookie season highlighted by his team's appearance in the 2010 MLS cup final and his first opportunity with the red, white and blue ...
Zach Loyd (right) shows his ability to get forward on the left flank
ussoccer.com: How does someone from a small town in the heart of football country wind up playing soccer?
Zach: “My brothers got me into it. They started playing when I was young, so I followed in their footsteps. Once I got started, I loved it ever since.”
ussoccer.com: Still, you must have played some football ...
Zach: “I grew up playing football until I was a sophomore in high school. I played safety and kicker, and wide receiver when they needed me. Being from a small town, we played all the sports. Through high school I was playing basketball and soccer. I got offered a scholarship to the University of North Carolina for soccer, so I stuck with it. I love playing.”
ussoccer.com: Was it hard finding places to play soccer?
Zach: “Most of the time we played in my backyard. We lived on two acres, so we were basically were able to play half field. For my birthdays, my parents would get me floodlights, and eventually I had a fully lit field. That’s where I played a lot growing up with my brothers and our friends. We would just call people and see what they were up to, and it would turn into night games at our house. It was awesome.”
ussoccer.com: How did you wind up at UNC?
Zach: “I was verbally committed to Tulsa when I went to a camp in Connecticut. A coach I knew was friends with staff at UNC. They asked if I was interested, and I flew out for a visit. It was a tough decision. UNC was somewhere I always wanted to go as a kid, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
ussoccer.com: You were drafted in the first round by FC Dallas. What was draft day like? Did you know where you were heading?
Zach: “I had no idea what was going to happen. I was pretty nervous. My coach was there, and so was my girlfriend. My parents couldn’t make it because they had to work. Getting drafted by Dallas was a blessing. I have a son, so getting close to home was very important to me. I love the city, and now I get to see my son on a regular basis. He gets to come to all my home games.”
ussoccer.com: In your rookie season you played 24 games in the regular season and four in the playoffs. Were you surprised that you were able to earn so much time?
Zach: “I didn’t know what to expect going in. I just showed up and worked hard. I’m thankful the coaches gave me the opportunity. My teammates help out a lot along the way, giving me confidence. It was a great season. I enjoyed it.”
ussoccer.com: Were you surprised when you received the email that you had been invited to the January camp?Zach: “I had no idea it was coming. When I found out, it was a pretty emotional moment. I got a bit choked up when I told my parents. They were ecstatic. Getting the opportunity to play with this group of guys is very humbling. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
an1310 from Twitter: Zach, which player that you haven't seen before has impressed you the most in camp?Zach: Considering that most guys are in MLS, I have seen almost all of them. I would have to say that Juan Agudelo is impressive. He’s a lot bigger than I expected him to be. It’s been awesome playing with him.’
WeFollowFutbol from Twitter: What is it like playing on the same team as many of his MLS opponents?
Zach: “It’s really cool to get a chance to know them outside of soccer. You build a bond and friendships here in camp. I’m rooming with Eugene Starikov. He’s a cool guy. He’s always speaking in Russian in the room. It’s interesting to hear about Russia, what it’s like to live there and the experiences he has had.”
barcenalix from Twitter: Would you ever like to play in Europe? If yes, which league do you think would suit you the best?
Zach: “If an opportunity presented itself and I thought it was right for my career, I would consider it. I like playing in MLS and being close to my son. We have a great group of players and a great staff in Dallas. I’m enjoying it.”teehee9546 from Twitter: What was your most memorable game?-daizy
Zach: “As a team, it was great coming to Los Angeles for the playoffs to play the Galaxy and winning the way we did. We really came together as a team. A lot of people didn’t believe in us. It was awesome result for us, and a great game to be a part of."
ussoccer.com: You are one of many players making their first appearance in a national team camp. What has been the biggest adjustment?
Zach: “The biggest difference is the intensity of every training session. It’s always high because guys want to show well. It’s a great opportunity to be coached by this staff. They show you a lot of things that you can take back to your club that will help you improve your game.”
ussoccer.com: There has been a lot thrown at you in the first couple weeks of camp, and as you said you try to focus on working hard every day. Having said that, have you thought about what it might be like if you get to step on the field Saturday?
Zach: “Sure it’s in the back of my mind, but for the most part I’m just trying to train hard every day and leave it up to the coaches. It has always been a dream of mine to represent my country. I hope I get the chance.”