LEHI — You can't blame Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley if he has been a little distracted lately.
He just began his fourth professional season in Major League Soccer and is trying to help RSL repeat as champions. But he has a couple of other things on his mind as well — like the world's most popular sporting event. The World Cup begins in South Africa in June, and there is still a chance that Findley will be named to the 23-man roster for the United States team.
"I think about it a little bit; it's pretty big. It's kind of hard to keep it up," said Findley of maintaining his concentration for RSL while a potential National Team call-up still looms. "It's just the times at training and at games you got to try to block it out, focus on what you're doing at that time. You do all the hard work out here, and then do what you need to during games."
Through Real's first three games, Findley has yet to score a goal. He has, however, contributed two assists, but as the team has gone 1-1-1, Findley is still trying to round into form, as is the rest of the squad.
"I don't think that he, or any player on our team, is firing on all cylinders, and they shouldn't be expected to be," said coach Jason Kreis.
Acquired from the Los Angeles Galaxy partway through the 2007 season, Findley is the all-time leader in franchise history with 27 including the playoffs. He scored 12 goals during the 2009 regular season, and three more during the run to the Cup. He is the only player in club history with a hat trick in an MLS game and has nine career assists. With all that, he is still trying to find the net for the first time this season.
"It's always the first one you know," said Findley. "I've had a few opportunities. You just have to keep going at it, and when the first one comes, it is a lot easier — you just have to get the first one off your back."
Findley scored against San Jose this week in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game, but that doesn't count officially on the stat sheet. Of course, any MLS goal doesn't really count toward Findley making the team for South Africa — but it wouldn't hurt.
"I'm not sure what he (U.S. coach Bob Bradley) thinks, but I think it means something," said Findley of whether his play in MLS games matters to a potential roster spot with the U.S. "Definitely if you're scoring goals and feeling confident in the MLS season and get selected for the World Cup team it's a good thing. You'd be on a high. I don't know what he's looking for, but it wouldn't hurt."
Having both international play and MLS games on one's mind isn't easy. But according to Kreis, who went through the experience during his career as he had 14 caps with the U.S. squad and over 100 goals in MLS play, Findley can handle it.
"I don't know what the expectations are, but obviously the demands are higher on him," said Kreis. "He's got to think about multiple responsibilities. There's a responsibility to us first and foremost, but then there could potentially have the responsibility with the National Team. So it could provide its own challenges. I know from personal experience that can be a difficult situation and it's also a learning process.
"He's very even-keeled, very humble. I think he has all the tools to handle it psychologically, and I know he has all the tools physiologically," added Kreis.6 comments on this story
Findley was called into camp for National Team duty in September when the U.S. squad played El Salvador in a World Cup qualifier at Rio Tinto and at Honduras, but didn't make the 18-man playing rosters. He started and played in friendlies against Honduras, El Salvador and the Netherlands earlier this year, but he is really hoping to hear the good word when the World Cup team is named next month.
"It is just something everyone dreams of, you watch it growing up," Findley said. "It's the biggest stage. It would be an honor to represent your country, to be a part of something like that, not a lot of people get to do. It would be a big accomplishment."