I was lucky enough to do a short Q and A with the Timbers recent signing Drew McAthy.
Drew played college soccer for UCSB and has played in the PDL and last year in the USL with the Puerto Rico Islanders.
1 How did the signing by the Timbers come about? In a recent interview with former Timbers GM Jim Taylor he said that the Timbers wanted to sign you before. Were you close to coming to Portland in 2005?
I was contacted by coach Agnello. I had also expressed to the Galaxy staff that I had a big interest in playing for the Timbers and I know the coach has a good relationship with them. I was considering the Timbers last year but, at the time, Puerto Rico seemed like a better for me, I learned that that wasn't quite the case.
2 What was playing for the Islanders last year like? You were playing on a team with 2 of the leagues leading scorers (Woolfolk and Salles), did that limit you playing time? Was that frustrating?
As I mentioned, Puerto Rico wasn't a great fit for me, but I did learn a lot from that experience. I was starting at the beginning of the year and playing well but I didn't score in the first few games. Then Salles and Woolfolk came on one game and just got hot. I didn't get much of a chance the rest of the season, just 10 min here and there. It was a bit frustrating for a while because they just wouldn't stop scoring, which limited my chances. But they both had a great year so they deserved it.
3 You've played college soccer. PDL and also USL Div 1, what are the main differences between the quality of the game?
The main difference is that USL Div. 1 has more physically mature players. All around, guys are just faster and stronger, so you cant get away with some of the same mistakes as you could in college or PDL.
4 Has Chris Agnello spoken to you about the role he wants you to play this year? If not, what role do you think plays best to your strengths as a player?
We haven't gotten too specific about my role but I know he is excited to bring me in. I believe I can be a presence up top with my size and work rate. I will also be dangerous in the box, I usually score my goals from inside the area.
5 Do you know any of your teammates this year or have you played against any of them?
I know a few of the guys. I was with Scot Thompson and Josh Saunders at Galaxy camp last year. I played with Tommy Poltl for the OC Blue Star as well. Im expecting it to be a nice transition.
6 You've said before that your goal is playing in MLS. Is that still true?
Of course. I very much want to play in the MLS. The Galaxy would be the ideal situation for me, but I just want to get a shot at the highest level of American soccer, wherever that may be.
7 This year the Timbers training camp opens a month from the start of the season and the only preseason games announced are against local college sides. What's your view on the best kind of pre-season training? Is a month enough? Does playing against MLS sides or other USL sides for example prepare a player better for the season?
A month may seem a bit short but Coach Agnello is very experienced and will have us ready on April 22nd. The important thing is that we get games. I don't know if it necessarily matters who we play. The college teams will provide strong enough competition for us to see what we need to work on. Also, coach just got the job a couple months ago so I am sure he did the best with the time he was given. It is obviously not as easy financially as the other sports in the country, but to be able to play at such a high level is an opportunity that not may Americans had 10 years ago. Guys like me do typically take jobs in the off-season. For example, I have been doing some real estate work down in Southern California, but I am more than ever ready to start playing in a professional atmosphere again. It isn't too frustrating because I know that If I score some goals this year, then I will get a shot at the next level.
8 Can you give a flavor of how it is for a college player turning pro in the US. How difficult is it to keep your eyes on a goal (playing for MLS for example) and how is it financially for a young player playing in the USL.
9 Having played in the USL last year which teams and which players
impressed you most?
I don't really remember any players in particular from last year. Salles, on my team, scored several of the best goals I have seen in person, but there are many good players throughout the league. The two teams that we had the most trouble against were Montreal and Vancouver. However, almost every game in league is close, I don't think that there are any really big mismatches.
10 What are your thoughts about playing in Portland this year?
I am very excited to be in Portland this year. I believe that the Timbers provide just the stepping stone I need to jump start my pro career and establish my goal of playing in the MLS. However, the most important thing for 2006 is that we capture a USL D 1 title, which I believe we are very capable of.