Stuart Dobson faced a dilemma upon graduating from the University of Portland in 1995. He could return to his native England and live lavishly as a professional soccer player, and as a result endure the constant attention, or he could pursue the indoor game in America and live a more reserved lifestyle.
"Having lived in the states for four years of college, I saw a lot of opportunities outside of soccer as well," said Dobson. "Because the economy in England is not as good as it is here. It's great while you're playing soccer, but there's not much after that."Particularly in Beverley, England, a working-class town near Manchester with just over 100,000 residents. Four years after his decision, Utah Freezz coach Dave Poggi is glad Dobson decided to maintain his professional status in America. He'll be the starting keeper in net Wednesday night when the Freezz host the Brazil indoor national team at the E Center at 7 p.m.
"Not only are they going to be great players, but they're going to know how to play the (indoor) game," said Dobson. "The Brazilian players are extremely talented, and I just want to see how they play. It's going to be an interesting test not only for me but the whole team."
The Freezz are coming off of an exhibition 13-1 victory over El Salvador last week, a game in which Dobson scored his first career indoor goal, which he still can't fathom.
"It's going to be a long time before I score again," he said.
However, Utah isn't buzzing over that win too much. El Salvador was noticeably unfamiliar with the indoor game whereas the Brazilians won't be.
Perhaps the player who related most with El Salvador's confusion last week was the guy who nearly shut them out. When Dobson got the call from the Portland Pythons professional indoor soccer team after he graduated from college with a business management degree, he was surprised because he'd never played indoor before. Sure, he'd participated in England a few times, but back home the indoor game is just a social event, nothing of any legitimacy.
"The outdoor game is the only game in England," Dobson said.
During that rookie season he gradually acclimated himself to the indoor game, and four years and eight season later, which have taken him to Portland, Tampa Bay, Montreal and Harrisburg, the 29-year-old has ended up in Utah, and is liking it. He also brings with himself a decent resume, such as last year's Eastern Indoor Soccer League's goalkeeper of the year.
After bouncing around for four years, Dobson is kind of excited about the prospects of settling down in Utah, something many athletes seem to do once they've experienced the quite setting along the Wasatch Front.
"I've only been in Utah a month, but I like what I've seen. The area is very beautiful to look at and the people are great," Dobson said. "If it looks like the franchise is going to be around for many years to come, then this looks like a place I could see myself definitely settling down in."
Dobson's first experience in the United States was Philadelphia in the summer of 1990. He'd just completed his season as the keeper for Redding FC in England's second division, and he decided to visit the states for the summer to coach, but more particularly to get away from it all. He loved his experience, and didn't forget that upon returning home. After another season at Redding, Brian Charles, the coach at the University of Portland and a respected name in England, contacted Dobson and informed him that Kasey Keller had just graduated and the Pilots were in need of a goalie.
"Him being English, he knew my background, and knew I had decent standards," Dobson said. "So he decided to bring me in."
Leaving home was tough because nobody gets as passionate about soccer as the English. There's a famous quote that most Englanders follow. "Soccer isn't a matter of life and death, it's much more than that." However, Dobson likes being in the United States and not living and dying based on the outcomes of a soccer match.
"It's nice be involved with that (hype), but it's also nice to have an escape from soccer as well, which is what you get in this country," Dobson said, adding that the only drawback is that he doesn't make nearly as much money as he would back home.
Aside from his family and friends, who actually encouraged him to pursue his dreams in America, watching Premiere League games is what Dobson misses most about home. The Internet almost fully cures that loneliness, however, because at 4:45 every Saturday the games in England conclude and Dobson is on the Internet by 5 o'clock checking out the results of his team, Manchester United.