Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Busy Wednesday

It was a busy Wednesday here at The Home Depot Center with the friendly in Edmonton being announced, the six and ten game ticket plans going on sale and Vito Higgins completing his first training sessions with the club after making it through the open tryouts this past weekend.

We also chatted with goalkeeper Charles Alamo, the Galaxy's second round Supplemental Draft pick. The Southern California native had just moved to New Orleans about a month prior to being picked by LA and quickly packed up his car and headed west upon hearing the news.

Hear all about Alamo's wild ride, and his thoughts on wearing the Galaxy uniform below.

LAG - Did you know that your name was in the player pool in the Supplemental Draft?
CA - It was in the back of my head. Earlier in the process, I had waited for a Combine invite and when that didn’t happen, being from a school that’s middle of the road, it’s tough to get an invitation, which was disappointing, but I understood it. I knew there was a chance that I could go into the Supplemental, but for all intents and purposes I had said I’m going to take the next step, I’ve gotten this job and I’ll accept it. It was funny—the Combine invitation list came out the day after I got the job. I said give me 24 hours, let me wait and see because this is what I really want to be doing. It didn’t happen, and I call them back and took the offer. It was something in the back of my head, but it wasn’t something I was waiting on necessarily.

LAG - What was the job in New Orleans?
CA - It was working with an environmental non-profit, lobbying at the federal legislative level. I was only there for a month, so I was more or less just moving my stuff into the office. I was dealing with the congressmen, senators, some local elected officials, but mostly on the federal level, trying to effectively either pressure the lawmaker to vote for progressive environmental legislation or vote against what we considered poor environmental legislation.

LAG - Who was it that told you that you got picked?
CA - I was sitting home on a Wednesday, the day before the Supplemental Draft. I got a called from my assistant coach from university and he said, “I just got off the phone with Trevor James from the Galaxy, and they were thinking they would like to pick you up but they don’t know what you’re doing, we don’t know what you’re doing.” I told him OK, let me talk to my folks real quick and I’ll get back to you by the end of the day. Ten minutes later I called him back saying let’s do this. Obviously, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. It was up in the air—you never know. Draft day is all over the place. It’s not televised so you can’t really watch. You’re kind of sitting around holding your breath. I got a 3-1-0 call that afternoon. I was thinking this has probably something to do with the draft. It was Alexi Lalas. He said, “Mr. Alamo” and I was like ‘yes’. He was like, “This is Alexi Lalas, President of the Los Angeles Galaxy.” I’m all like, Alexi, anyone who is 23 or younger growing up—Alexi Lalas was an icon, a hero. It was pretty surreal. He said, “I know you’re out in New Orleans. Be safe, but get yourself back here to California.”

LAG - It was a pretty quick turnaround…
CA - Thursday was draft day. I have to be completely honest. I hadn’t played or trained at the level for about eight weeks or so. I hadn’t done any high level training. I was keeping my fitness up with jogging and what not. I knew I wanted to get back to California as soon as possible to get with my old coaches and get in as many days in as I could to get my fitness level up, my technique up, all that kind of stuff up to where it needed to be, so I could come in and show well. I packed up Thursday night, drove from New Orleans to the border of Texas and Louisiana, and spent the night there at about two in the morning. Then went from the eastern border of Texas to the western border of Texas in El Paso. It was the first long day. It was about 900 miles. And then from El Paso to Los Angeles the next day, so about 48 hours roughly.

Texas is incredible. It goes on. It’s the same scenery. You hit Houston and then you hit San Antonio and then there is nothing until El Paso. From San Antonio to El Paso, I was like if my car breaks down, I’m screwed. I have this old beat up car. It’s something out of a comedy movie. It was fun coming home, knowing what I was coming home to. I was very excited about it and wanted to get training and hit the ground running so to speak.

LAG - You’re family is local.
CA - Southern California (San Luis Obispo). And, I went to school an hour from here (UC-Riverside). I’ve been here at The Home Depot Center, in fact last spring my college team played against the Galaxy and Chivas USA. So, I’ve been around. I know the environment. It’s nice to be home and close to friends. And, be somewhere that’s familiar to me and my parents are close, which is great.

LAG - You made it made it back in two days (without getting pulled over!) and then had a week of training.
CA - It was about five days in Riverside with my old team. And pretty much I set up two and three-a-days. I wanted to get all that soreness all out of my legs as soon as I could. So a lot of fitness in the morning and technique in the afternoon, and some long runs in the evening. I was definitely more sore that week than my first week here, which was good. I did that right. If I had come into camp first here (without training), I would probably died after the first afternoon. It worked. I feel like I’m playing near or at the top I’ve ever been.

LAG – How has it been working with Ian Feuer?
CA - Ian’s great. Having Ian, it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to work on a day-to-day consistent basis with a goalkeeper coach that played at the top level. It’s one thing to have played at the top level, but its also to be a good coach. And Ian does both. We clicked right off the bat and it’s been an amazing asset to have him. Steve sets the bar for training, technique, work rate. He’s very collegial with other goalkeepers, which I was surprised. You could come in this situation, and Steve could be like this is my spot I don’t care about you, you know. That was not the case at all. If anything he kind of said, alright guys you’re new, but this is what we expect. I’m looking forward to playing with Steve to get myself into a position to push him along to the next level, to be able to get where I need to be so he feels pressure from that level. But it’s good to see someone who does everything so well.

LAG - It must have been good to come into a team that Joe (Cannon) left a short while ago, so there are open goalkeeper spots. You’re not fighting against an impossible path.
CA - It’s not a situation where there is four quality, quality goalkeepers that have been here a year or two longer than I have. It’s definitely a situation where I think, Steve’s worked hard and he’s been with the organization, so he deserves the position he has now, with Joe Cannon leaving and Matt Allen signing in Norway, its kind of turn out where I need to reassess, but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. It’s one training session at a time, but its sure is exciting to think of the potential of being in a position where in a couple of weeks I’m maybe a number two spot. I’m really trying to do my best to get better myself and push Steve.

LAG - You said it was kind of surreal to get the phone call from Alexi. How is it to walk into the locker room and you have Landon, David and Carlos Ruiz. Ruud Gullit is your coach; Cobi is one of the assistants.
CA - It’s a funny thing. I think surreal is the word you go with. I’ve watched these players my whole life and looked up to them as soccer players, athletes, individuals forever. You’re in the locker room or on the pitch, 95 percent they are like any other teammate. You respect them, they are veterans. They’ve been around the game for a long time and obviously, played at the highest level, but when you’re in the locker room, on the pitch or up at lunch, you play for the same thing—you’re teammates. That’s the bottom line. I think they understand that for the most time. David’s been incredibly nice, surprisingly so. He’s down to earth and really cares about his teammates. Then I go home and my friends call that I played high school soccer with and they are like you’re kidding me, you saved a shot from David Beckham today. When I think of it like that, in that context, it is kind of ridiculous. If you had told me a month ago, I would be doing this I would have probably laughed you out of the room. When you are in the situation, it’s like any other team. That’s the only way that kind of structure can be successful if everyone just things of them as teammates.

LAG - You’re into your second week of practice now. Are you enjoying it?
CA - Are you kidding me? We come in from the hotel in the morning, and I get to throw on the Galaxy uniform everyday, go out and train with some of the best players in the country if not the world. It’s one of those things when I was 15-years old; this is what I dreamed of. Eight years later, I’m doing it. I don’t have a complaint in the world. I’m loving it.


Zack said...

being a fellow highlander, i wish you the best!

Brice said...

AWESOME interview. This is exactly what the blog should be posting up. I love the part "LAG - You’re into your second week of practice now. Are you enjoying it?
CA - Are you kidding me? We come in from the hotel in the morning, and I get to throw on the Galaxy uniform everyday, go out and train with some of the best players in the country if not the world. It’s one of those things when I was 15-years old; this is what I dreamed of. Eight years later, I’m doing it. I don’t have a complaint in the world. I’m loving it."

that's EXACTLY the type of answer he should be giving.... that's awesome. Can't wait for the season to start...

UCI blue and gold said...

please sign higgins, he was amazing last time i saw him (despite the fact that my school beat his). please please please?

Anonymous said...

Is this guy great or what!?

Too bad about the knee. I can't wait to see him play... next year?