Author Archives: Zev Taublieb

Written by Zev Taublieb


Ed note: This is the third in a three-part series from Valparaiso midfielder Zev Taublieb on his journey from college to play soccer at the U23 level. Part 1 | Part 2

In the first three minutes our captain hit the post off a corner. Then two minutes later I made a run out wide and gave our top goal-scorer time to hit a shot outside the box. It smashed the crossbar and looked to have bounced across the line and back out again, but the refs waved our objections away. A minute later I put our striker through on goal for a breakaway. Their keeper came up with a great save and the score was left 0-0 despite all of our great chances.

Halftime came around and we were losing. Darren explained that, had we finished our first three opportunities, the game would be over. I was playing well, but angry and disappointed I hadn’t done more. Darren made four subs at the half. We only had four other subs, which meant I was going to play for the rest of the game.

Before stepping on the field for the second half, I thought to myself, again, two months ago I wasn’t even on the roster. Now I’m playing a full 90 against another top MLS side. After the game, which we eventually lost, Darren spoke to us again, his words still ringing in my ears.

“The purpose of this program is to build professionals. Yes, we want to win, but more importantly we want to develop you. We need to learn the lessons of this weekend and to further the teams improvement and the individual improvement of all of you. To become a pro you have to be consistent, understand the game, out work your opponent, have the technical ability, and emotional stability. Today they had more of each of these components.”

The loss hurt all of us. We still had a chance to make the playoffs, but we dug ourselves a small hole. However, Darren’s words told us that we still had a shot not only to make playoffs, but also become professionals, the goal of the entire team.

Two days later Belgium was playing the United States in the World Cup round of 16. Fabian Johnson, the right back for the United States, pulled up with a hamstring injury and DeAndre Yedlin was put in his place. I texted Darren a simple “Go Yedlin.” What an amazing journey he’s had over the past two years. Two summers ago he was playing for the U23 Seattle Sounders team and now is playing against arguably one of the best teams in the world at the World Cup. Darren texted me back, “You have earned my respect Zev. With belief and hard work maybe you can be the next Yedlin.”

I responded quickly with my heart beating fast. “Yes, that has been my goal for a long time.” He reiterated that belief is the key to achieving even your most wildest of dreams. I took a picture of the texts. I will savor them forever.

I have been wanting to play for this U23 side since the moment we had our first training session. However, I just as much wanted Darren’s respect. I respected him so much, regardless if he played me or did not play me. He tells you how it is and truly wants everyone around him to succeed, from the kit man to the other players, to the other coaches. I knew earning his respect would not be easy, which was all the more reason I wanted it. When I received that text, I felt honored. I deserved it, I had earned it, and I was not going to waste it.

I think it is Darren’s personality, coaching, and wisdom and that of which he instilled in the Seattle Sounders youth program that has helped 16 players from the U23 team sign pro contracts. I think it is a major reason why DeAndre Yedlin is where is. Darren coached Yedlin with the Sounders throughout his youth career and at the U23 level. Darren can see the big picture. As much as he wants to win every game he understands that he has done his job well if he is producing talent. To produce talent you must produce winners and there’s no one better at it. I look forward to be added to the list of players who signed pro after playing with the U23 team.

At the time of this writing, we have four more games to play. I don’t know what my role in them will be. I’m confident in my ability because of what Darren has taught me and will continue to teach me. I hope to play for him when I’m a professional. I know I’ll go professional. I don’t know with who, where, or how, but it will happen. Belief is the key. It is the belief I have in myself that helped me go from not being on the roster for this Seattle Sounders U23 team to starting and playing a whole game. There are many more steps to take. I am not satisfied. But I must look at the big picture and mentally record my accomplishments, so when another challenge comes my way, I’ll know anything is possible.

Seattle Sounders U23

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Written by Zev Taublieb


Ed note: This is the second in a three-part series from Valparaiso midfielder Zev Taublieb on his journey from college to play soccer at the U23 level. You can read part one here.

Playing with the second group was often demoralizing.

I knew this was going to be my position when I arrived, but that didn’t stop my agony. I wanted to play. I wanted to help the team. I wanted to be a real difference maker. How could I do any of that if I wasn’t playing? I thought about quitting. I don’t like to admit it crossed my mind, but it did. I had been invited to play for the Des Moines Menace earlier that year after performing well for them in last year’s PDL season. I thought about asking that coach if I could return. I thought about going home and seeing my family who I had not seen in months. I missed my girlfriend and thought about visiting her.

As these thoughts went through my mind I said to myself, “I made a commitment and I plan to keep it.”

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Written by Zev Taublieb


Ed note: This is the first in a three-part series from Valparaiso midfielder Zev Taublieb on his journey from college to play soccer at the U23 level.

In life there are many steps you take. Sometimes those steps seem to take you backwards, some you deem too small to be impactful and others you’ll remember forever.

The step that changed my life occurred on March 16th, 2014.

I was a junior in college nearing the end of my second semester. I was determined that summer to play in the PDL for an MLS team. I’d completed a pretty successful career at Valparaiso University, a Division I program in northern Indiana. I’d played nearly every minute since my freshman year, played an integral part in winning the school’s first ever Horizon League Title trophy, and received a number of honors. As well as I was performing, no MLS teams were actively recruiting me.

It had been like this since high school. No top club teams or Division I schools were after me. I had to promote myself to get seen. I knew the steps I had to take and went about taking them. I looked online to see if and when the Seattle Sounders were having open tryouts. The Sounders’ U23 track record was amazing. They had produced 16 professional players who play both in the states and abroad. They were hosting open tryouts over a weekend in March, and I bought myself a plane ticket and a very cheap motel.

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Written by Zev Taublieb


Can you name the first ever American player to be signed by Manchester United at the age of 16? Can you name the first and only American player who has won a Champions League title? Can you name the current Technical Director of the LA Galaxy?

Tip: They are all the same person. Time’s up!  It is JOVAN KIROVSKI. His 1v1 interview begins now:


How did Manchester United see you play?

JK: I went over to England with the US youth national team when I was 16. We played against Manchester United, Liverpool, and other English clubs. A scout from Manchester United invited me for a two-week trial that next summer. United wanted me to play in MILK Cup, a youth international tournament, but their roster was full. They lent me to Glasgow Rangers for the tournament and we ended up winning. I scored 7 goals in 7 games and many clubs wanted me. Manchester United was the obvious choice for me, however. My parents were very supportive and before I knew it I was the youngest and first American playing professional soccer for one of the best teams in the world.


You are the only American to win the Champions League. If you had to describe the emotions you felt at the time in one word what would it be?

JK: AMAZING! It was a fantastic experience. I did not think about it then, but the players I was around were the best in the world. We were the Barca of now and I was a player among them.


You were only 16 years old and the first American player to be playing abroad. Was it difficult adapting to the your new environment in England with Manchester United?

JK: Being an American was not easy, but once you show them you can play everyone gives you respect.


Can you describe your emotions during your first debut for the US national team at 18 years?

JK: GREAT! I was born and raised here! I have played 62 games with the US national team and have played at the youth level as well as in the Olympics. It was always amazing playing for my country. I wanted to be the best!

Kirovski talks playing in Bundesliga and MLS after the jump

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Written by Zev Taublieb


Stefan Antonijevic is a former Valpairaso player whose professional career has taken many turns. He was drafted by Kansas City, bounced around Europe and the 6-foot-6 center back has now settled in Florida with the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. We check in with the globetrotter in this exclusive interview.


Where are you from?
I am from Buffalo Grove Illinois.


Do you have dual citizenship? To what countries?

SA: Yes, American and Serbian


If soccer had not worked out what was you backup plan?

SA: Coaching



SA: Great league that allows younger players to develop and pursue higher leagues.


One thing you find unique to the NASL compared to other leagues.

SA: The structure of the league and its schedule


What is your next professional goal?

SA: Next goal is to have a long and successful career without any regrets



If you could choose to go abroad or stay in the US where would you choose to go?

SA: Abroad


Any team in the MLS you hope to play against? Why?

SA: Definitely Sporting KC and Chicago Fire. Because I used to play with those teams, and there would be no sweeter revenge than to beat them.


What are some other teams you have tried out for or played on since your college career?

SA: Spartak Zlatibor Voda of the Serbian SuperLiga and HNK Rijeka of the Croatian first league.


Find out who Antonijevic models his game after following the jump.

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Written by Zev Taublieb

This is what Valparaiso pregame looks like: megging, singing, drumming, dancing, being sexy, praying and inspiring. Oh, and then they actually play soccer.

Directed by our own Zev Taublieb, this is a fresh look at the behind-the-scenes action of one of the coolest college teams in the country. We like your style, Valpo!


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Written by Zev Taublieb


He is famous, he is good looking; smart, talented, owns his own company and his initials are JB. No, it is not James Bond, Jason Bourne, or even Justin Bieber. It is none other than Jon Busch. We were able to catch up with the San Jose starting goalkeeper during this 1v1 interview for some interesting revelations.


Who was your soccer role model during your youth?

JB: (Former US Soccer GK) Tony Meola and (brother) Matt Busch.


What made you decide to become a keeper?

JB: My older brother was a forward and he needed someone to shoot on so he stuck me in goal and I liked it.


What 3 tips would you give an aspiring player or goalkeeper if their dream is to accomplish as much as you have?  

1. Don’t let anyone out work you.

2. Take each set back as just another challenge.

3. When your chance comes grab it with both hands and don’t let go.


Who is the best player you’ve ever played against?

JB: There have been so many. Peter Novak comes to mind, and Marco Etchevery.


What is the most memorable game you have played in? What team were you with? What team was it against?

JB: The two games that come to mind are when I played for the Crew and we beat LA for the Open Cup final and my US National Team debut vs Colombia, we won 3-0.


Busch previews life after soccer after the jump

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Written by Zev Taublieb


Meet Javan Torre, the UCLA standout and US U20 National team starter who would one day love to draw cartoons? Ok …

A phenomenal soccer player, but an even more interesting person, we chatted with the Santa Monica, California native who just happens to have the same initials as Justin Timberlake. We’re just sayin …

Special thanks to FCLA Vice President Mark Shanley, a former coach of mine, who set up this interview and is a former coach and invaluable role model in my life. 


Against whom did you debut for the US U20 team, and give a one-word emotion to explain that feeling?

JT: Canada. Fulfilling


While in Mexico for the Concacaf U20 tournament were you able to see the city?

JT: Not much. We went into town once. It was nice, we saw a beautiful cathedral. While we were there it was mostly business. It was very important couple of weeks, but you always want to see a new country. We were lucky enough to go out couple of times.


If given the opportunity to go professional right now, would you take it or finish college?

JT: Immediate reaction is to say (I’d go pro) now, but it depends on the situation at hand. Getting an education is never a bad decision. If a contract offer were given to me I would still weigh all the pros and cons.


Who is the best player you have played against?

JT: The number 10 player on Mexico, Corona; he is a pretty good player.

Follow Javan’s interview after the jump.

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Written by Zev Taublieb


Meet Chivas USA youth academy star Bradford Jamieson (top right). Jamieson is a standout for the U16 group that has been called in to play for the US U17 National Team. In the following interview you’ll learn why playing against Mexico is the ultimate test and why Jamieson loves bacon and Mila Kunis.

Special thanks to Barry Ritson, the Executive Head Director of coaching at LA Premier, for his help in putting these interviews together.


Where are you from?

BJ: I was Born in Los Angeles, California with four siblings – all brothers.


What is your favorite food?        

BJ: My favorite food without a doubt is bacon. Pretty much the best thing on Earth.


If you could be in two teams at once besides playing at Chivas USA what other club team would your clone play for?         

BJ: Lets see … my clone would definitely play for the real Arsenal FC, not the one in California.


Do you have a pre-game ritual?

BJ: Yes, I do. Before any game I play I do a short prayer and listen to three songs on my phone: (The Girl from Ipanema, Falcao by MV Bill, and Mas Que Nada)


When/if you score this coming season what will your celebration be?

BJ: Well, for any goal celebration I kiss the badge, but on occasion one or two of my teammates and I will make a celebration. Group celebration tend to only happen at big games for me.

Jamieson talks pro vs. college after the jump

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Written by Zev Taublieb

Man City

By now I am sure you’ve seen Manchester City’s Harlem Shake Video. Ever wonder who the guy is behind the Man City mascot mask? Wonder no more. We caught up with the mystery man – Manchester City First team nutritionist Tom Parry – for an interview in which he gives advice to aspiring nutritionists and shares secrets of some of the top players in the world.

To see him dance without the mask GO HERE then come back for the below interview which starts … now:

What is your official job title at Manchester City? 

First team and EDS Sports Scientist/Strength Coach. My specialist area is nutrition. I have an Undergraduate degree (BSc) in sports and exercise science and a Masters (MSc) in sports physiology.


Talk about what your job entails? 

Analysis of saliva to monitor the health of players and help dictate specific nutrition. Analysis of heart rate and GPS during training; analysis of key markers in blood, implementing supplementation and diet strategies. Delivery of gym and (onfield) conditioning sessions.

That’s it in black and white but there is a lot of stuff thrown at you that can’t be planned for or predicted.  To be honest the biggest part of the job doesn’t come from the knowledge and theory. It is about being creative and getting the player’s to buy into it.  There is a lot of compromise and a lot of hard work before you get a squad who understands the importance of good nutrition.


What is your daily schedule before game day? 

Day before a game is about preparing the players nutritionally for me. Their conditioning is done earlier in the week and the training intensity is tapered. We have to ensure that the guys fuel up from supplementation and food. We monitor saliva to make sure the players have responded well to training/recovered from a midweek game and this dictates certain nutritional strategies. We also have the players in a hotel the night before so we can control what they have for the last few key meals leading into the game (rather than just one pre-match meal).


What is your daily schedule on game day? 

Get to the stadium, mix 9,000 drinks (laughs), get nervous, take the necessary pre-activation/warm up session, prepare all recovery aspects during the game, celebrate/commiserate (smiles).


What would you tell aspiring nutritionists to do or study if they want to be involved on the football side of nutrition? 

I think that I have benefitted from a general sports physiology background so I’d say do your early work in generic sports science and then specify.  I wouldn’t have got to where I am in football with a nutrition background alone.


What are some of the supplements you make sure each player has? 

Omega 3 is very important as modern day diets are loaded with omega 6 (vegetable oil, frozen foods, junk food). Unless you only eat fish, steamed vegetables and olive oil then you’ll need to supplement Omega 3. I really like creatine because it boosts muscle glycogen levels and recovery. But in general we screen the players and analyze their blood and give them supplements to meet their needs.


Do you use hair gel? (It is an inside joke that I ask everyone).

I use a medium to firm putty and a hair dryer.

Hear Parry’s opinion of Balotelli after the jump.

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