Q. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said the Gold Cup is a very important tournament for those players on the bubble for making the World Cup squad next summer. Gotta imagine the competition for playing time in camp is fierce right now as a result?
A. Absolutely, it’s the national team. It doesn’t matter what camp it is, what game it is you’re trying to win a spot. That goes for the guy with his first cap to the guy with his 130th cap. That’s just the way things are.
Q. You’ve had a chance to be in camp with Jurgen Klinsmann on several occasions now since he took over as head coach. He seems to be a coach who’s trying to change the culture of American soccer on a global level. How is he going about doing that?
A. He talks a lot about getting outside of your comfort zone. American players rarely do that because sometimes we stay in the MLS, maybe it’s our only option but we take that option. Now being outside of the states and playing abroad for almost four years, you kind of learn what he’s talking about, you really get the idea about what he means about getting outside your comfort zone. You play somewhere else, and soccer is a different standard, and what I mean by that, soccer is more of a way of life, the culture is very different, the pressure is different, so your comfort zone is different. When he pushes you like that, he pushes you for the better, and he wants you to experience those things to make you a better player. I think I’ve got a sense of what he’s talking about, and I hope we can keep buying into what he’s trying to sell us because it’s working so far.
Q. You’ve been highly successful in Mexico the past four years, and you recently signed with your fifth club down there, Tijuana. How hard is it to move from club to club down there?
A. It’s part of the job. That’s my fourth transfer, that’s four times a team’s purchased me, they’ve invested a lot of money in me. It shows a lot of faith they’ve had in me, but it’s also a lot of pressure. Each time I’ve handled that pressure well, and I’d like to continue doing that. This next chapter in my life is probably the most important. It’s a big responsibility. I’m going to a club where I want to be at, where they want me, and I’m excited.
Q. There’s a few hard-core soccer fans here in Utah that remember seeing you playing minor league soccer for the San Diego Gauchos against the Utah Blitzz. You’ve played on some of the biggest stages in your career. Is it ever surreal to think you were playing your professional soccer on high school soccer fields?
A. When I signed my Tijuana deal, I said it almost feels like I’m coming back full circle ’cause my professional soccer career kind of took off in that San Diego area. I do think about things like that, it is nice, it makes you appreciate how far you’ve come and looking back at where you started. I think I got lucky. Along the way there were players that were immensely better talent wise, but for whatever reason I kept going, and I’m thankful for that.
Q. Speaking of getting out of your comfort zone, Jurgen has had you play some on the wing, and tracking back a lot more than probably you’re used to. How difficult has it been adjusting to that?
A. When I was in Mexico and I won that Golden Boot, I was like ‘this is me, I’m a No. 9, this is what I want to play, this is who I am. This is why I get paid, this is why teams are interested. In these last two and a half years, I’ve been mainly playing as a winger, and I’ve still been finding the back of the net and finding ways to contribute and be important to my teams. Before, I was kind of resisting that role, now I’m kind of relishing it. I realize there’s value to it. I think I’ve become a better player for it.