Putting the Stars on the Spot

Major League Soccer

21. Soccer Interview: Matt Luzunaris (Orlando City Soccer Club)

Greeting: Welcome back to On The Hot Seat, Today I had the honor of interviewing Orlando City Soccer Club player Matt Luzunaris. Matt began his soccer career in Australia where he played for SC Schwanenstadt until the team folded in 2008 from there he spent his time playing SC Weiner Neustadt and Rapid Wein II before finding himself playing for the San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS. This past year the Earthquakes released Matt and he is now currently signed with Orlando City of the USL Pro League. Please follow Matt on Twitter and also keep up with OTHS Interviews on twitter also.

Justin Godsey: Tell us how did you get into playing Soccer ?

Matt Luzunaris: My mom wanted to keep us off the streets and keep us out of trouble, so she figured because soccer was so time consuming that would be the best sport for my brother and I to play. I then fell in love with the sport.

Justin Godsey: You were born in Margate Florida is Margate a big Soccer city in Florida?

Matt Luzunaris: I was born in Margate,FL but didnt grow up there. I grew up in Boca Raton,FL which is literally the next city and yes soccer was huge growing up. The youth rec teams and travel teams were growing each year.

Justin Godsey: Through out your childhood what Soccer player did you grow up admiring?

Matt Luzunaris: To be honest as weird as this sounds I didnt look up to any players. I never really watched it on tv or live professional games. I was to busy being active outside and always doing something.

Justin Godsey: Lets leap into your HS Soccer Career tell us about you playing Soccer in High School?

Matt Luzunaris: Well My freshmen year of HS I played in boca at Olympic Heights High where I was a starter, I then moved to West Boca High for my sophomore year where I was also a starter and captain but was tough because we were a new school. My junior and senior year I went to a boarding school in Rome, GA called Darlington School which had a soccer academy at it where we played college teams in their preseasons and travelled throughout the country to play in tournaments.

Justin Godsey: After High School you trained with New Castle United in England how did the trainers and coaches there help you step your game to a higher point ?

Matt Luzunaris: Man playing in England is every kids dream I would imagine, it was and still is for sure mine! But training with those guys and around the trainers was a real special treat, and I will never forget that short training stint there. The pace of the game, ball movement, mentality to go forward, and just the itch to score there really taught me the key components of being a player as a whole and of course being a dominant striker in the game.

Justin Godsey: From England you returned back to the United States and attended college at Central Florida and won the FYSA State Cup how did that feel return and win a collegiate championship ? 

Matt Luzunaris: The state cup I won was before I attended college and of course that was a  great accomplishment in my youth career and will never forget the times I had with my teammates. As for playing at UCF I only attended and played the first semester of my Freshmen year. I feel I had a good first season there and got what I needed to move onto the next level, that is when I decided to leave school and head overseas to Austria to sign a professional contract.

Justin Godsey: After 1 year at Central Florida you decided to go pro at any point did you want to return to CF or did you wanna jump right into your Pro Career?

Matt Luzunaris: I never regretted leaving school! I made sure that when I made that decision I promised myself I was going to fulfill this dream the fullest and make something of myself. I can always return to school sometime within the next couple years.

Justin Godsey: In 2008, Your pro career began you signed with SC Schwanenstadt when you signed what was on your mind.

Matt Luzunaris: Obviously signing your first pro contract your ecstatic and want to do so many things, but in reality you have to learn. There are a very very few Ronaldos and Messi’s in the world and for all us other humans we must work extremely hard to be successful and in the end some of us aren’t. Im still learning the game but I know with everywhere I have played I have become a much better player each time.

Justin Godsey: For the next 3 years you played Soccer for SV Wienerberg tell us about your 3 yr. tenure with the team

Matt Luzunaris: I didnt get many chances to play at SC Magna Wiener Neustadt but the opportunities to play else where arouse and I did well when I got the chance.

Justin Godsey: Last year on March 25th 2011, The San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) gave you a call and wanted you to play on there team tell us about the phone call and what was your reaction.

Matt Luzunaris: I was very excited and extremely thankful that they were willing to give me this chance to come out there.

Justin Godsey: On April 9th you debuted for the Earthquakes tell us about that day you debuted against Toronto FC ?

Matt Luzunaris: On my debut I didnt come in with much time left, but regardless of the game or the time its always super exciting to make you first appearance for your new club.

Justin Godsey: Last July you returned home to Flordia to play for Orlando City how excited were you to come home to Florida

Matt Luzunaris: I can tell you that was one of the best chances in my whole career! I was soo excited to be back home, and playing for that matter. The club here is an awesome organization and the fans are incredible

Justin Godsey: In your 1st 2 games of the season you scored goals in both games how complicated is it scoring in Soccer.

Matt Luzunaris: To score in soccer is never easy, but when you have a good team behind you who can play you the best balls then it is very easy when you have that.

Justin Godsey: In December you signed with Orlando not as a loan player but a roster player do you have any thought on making your way back to MLS or any other big teams?

Matt Luzunaris: I am just concentrating on what is in front of me at the moment. The past years I have worried about the future always, but now its time to enjoy the present and just do my job and enjoy playing! That is the most important thing.

Justin Godsey: Lets leave our readers off with this what can we look forward to seeing from Matt Luzunaris in 2012 and beyond?

Matt Luzunaris: All i can say for 2012 and beyond is im going to put my head down and just score and do well! Im going to prove to all the Nay sayers its time to shush up and watch!


6. MLS Interview: Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)


Greeting: Welcome back to On The Hot Seat, Today I interviewed Philadelphia Union Goalkeeper Zac MacMath. Zac was drafted by the Philadelphia Union in the 2011 MLS Draft where he was picked 5th overall out of Maryland. Zac debuted for the Union last year vs Real Salt Lake replacing then injured player Faryd Mondragon, he is currently the starting goalkeeper for the Union. Please keep follow Zac on twitter at @ZacMacMath.

Justin Godsey: How do you stay connected with your fans ?

Zac MacMath: I use both Twitter and Facebook to stay connected with fans. I try my best to always respond or reach out and help fans when they reach out to me.

Justin Godsey: How did you get into playing Soccer ?

Zac MacMath: My dad played soccer at Penn State, I tried all sports when I was younger but always had the most passion for soccer.

Justin Godsey: Growing up in Florida what Soccer teams did you grow up watching

Zac MacMath: I went to a lot of Tampa Bay Mutiny games as a kid. Watching soccer on TV was hard to do unless it was the World Cup.

Justin Godsey: Tell us about your High School Soccer career

Zac MacMath:  I only played high school soccer for 1 year, switching positions between goalkeeper, forward, and center back. After my freshman year, I got invited to the U17 Residency program and finished high school there.

Justin Godsey: Why did you decide to play Goal Keeper

Zac MacMath: I actually loved playing on the field. When it came to tryouts for ODP, my dad thought I would have a better chance at goalkeeper, and I made it. I usually practiced as a field player most days of the week and goalkeeper only once or twice. Eventually I had to stick to goalkeeping.

Justin Godsey: You went to the Universtiy of Maryland you won many awards what kind of awards did you win and what do the awards mean to you?

Zac MacMath: I won a few different awards at UMD. Don’t really remember all of their names but all of them meant a lot to me. Obviously playing in the ACC is very tough and to be recognized was nice.

Justin Godsey: On January 11th you were drafted 5th overall by the Philadelphia Union what was your reaction to making it to the big time.

Zac MacMath: It was a dream come true. I was extremely excited to start my pro career in Philly. I had a few different expectations about being a professional soccer player and I was just excited to see what it was like.

Justin Godsey: Tell us about your debut against Real Salt Lake on September 3rd

Zac MacMath: Our number 1 keeper, Mondi, broke his finger in the first half, they didn’t know if he was going to continue in the game. About 5 minutes before the half started, they told me I would be going in. It was kind of shocking, I just did my best to be calm and help my team get back in the game.

Justin Godsey: What player on the Philadelphia Union helped you get situated in with the club ?

Zac MacMath: There were a few players that helped me get situated. I think Amobi Okugo and Jack Mcinerney helped me most.

Justin Godsey: In 2010, You led the US. U-20 Mens National team to a Milk Cup Championship how does it feel winning the championship.

Zac MacMath: Winning any championship is special. Winning the milk cup was awesome. It’s one of the best known youth tournaments in the world and winning with the national team was awesome.

Justin Godsey: How has coach Rob Vartughian help step your game up ?

Zac MacMath: Rob has been an amazing asset to me. Throughout college, and then my rookie season, helping me physically, mentally, and as a goalkeeper, Rob has helped a ton. He is not only a great coach, but great person and always helped me with anything I needed.

Justin Godsey: Lets leave our readers with this what are we to expect from Zach MacMath in 2012 ?

Zac MacMath: Hope to help the Philadelphia Union to another playoff berth in 2012.


–Personal Questions–

Justin Godsey: What is your favorite Pre-Game Meal ?

Zac MacMath: Chicken, Pasta, and Veggies works for me.

Justin Godsey: What is on your Ipod ?

Zac MacMath: Usually listen to a few different radio stations on Pandora. Dynamite and Sugar Ray being my top two.

Justin Godsey: Do you play the Fifa Games? If so do you have a player created as yourself to be the best Goal Keeper?

Zac MacMath: I do not play fifa, or video games really at all.

Justin Godsey: What other sports team’s do you support ?

Zac MacMath: I support all sports at the University of Maryland. I also support the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Eagles.

1.Rodrigo Lopez, Midfielder, San Jose Earthquakes

Justin Godsey: Welcome to the 1st ever interview here on, On The Hot Seat today we have Rodrigo Lopez who currently plays soccer in the MLS and plays midfielder. Over the past 6 years Rodrigo has played soccer in the MLS for Chivas USA and as well as the Portland Timbers, Rodrigo has also played soccer down in Mexico and California until being resigned by the Timbers this past year. Please enjoy the interview with Rodrigo Lopez and welcome to On The Hot Seat. Please read the personal questions to Rodrigo later on in the interview.

Justin Godsey: Tell us how you got into playing Soccer

Rodrigo Lopez:  My Father played some pro soccer in Mexico, so since i could walk my father placed a ball on my feet. My first soccer team was at age 4 at a local Boys N Girls club.

Justin Godsey: Growing up did you watch Soccer at all? if you did what team and why?

Rodrigo Lopez: I grew up watching Mexican soccer and of course some european soccer. Chivas was my favorite team growing up so i wouldnt miss a game on TV. Eventually when i took trips down to Mexico i would go to stadiums and watch live.

Justin Godsey:  At the age of 2 your parents moved to the USA and moved to Santa Barbara is Santa Barbara a big soccer city?

Rodrigo Lopez: Santa Barbara is a big soccer city. Proven with the UCSB Gauchos attendance.

Justin Godsey: Going through your High School days have you ever dreamed on becoming a professional Soccer Player?

Rodrigo Lopez: Not just through High School, i always dreamed of becoming a prof. soccer player. Many kids growing up didnt really care about soccer, it was more like Basketball, baseball, or football. For me it was Soccer. Never played any other sport at school.

Justin Godsey:  In 2007 your chance of becoming a pro Soccer player came true when you signed a contract with Chivas USA what was your parents and your reaction to making it?

Rodrigo Lopez: My first Prof Contract was at Age 16 (2005) with Chivas Guadalajara. I had to leave school after just finishing up my sophomore year. I would be leaving my family. It was a tough decision for me but at the end of the day it was the best decision i ever made. I dont regret it one bit. Chivas Mexico is the biggest club team in all of North America! being  part of the organization was a dream come true. Teamates with now the best players in Mexican soccer. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Marco Fabian de La mora, Carlos Vela, etc.  To answer your question, Leaving Home at such a young age was hard for my parents but at the same time they were very proud of me.

Justin Godsey:  When you appeared on Chivas USA field how nervous were you to play in your 1st MLS Game?

Rodrigo Lopez:  Down 3-0 Vs DC United MLS cup champions. I was terrified! hahaha. Also, the best moment in my life. I thank the whole Chivas USA organization for giving me that opportunity and to coach Hans Westerholff. This was a good year for me i also became part of the USA youth national teams. Winning MILK CUP in Ireland and being called to most of camps. Representing your country at any age or sport is dream come true.

Justin Godsey:  In 2008 you joined the Ventura County Fusion how excited were you to join the squad?

Rodrigo Lopez:  To be honest i didnt know what to think of it, i had just been waived by Chivas USA and i needed to stay in shape so i contacted coach Graham Smith and he was delighted to take me on board. Ill tell you what though for a PDL club these people know what they are doing. THey are on top of everything run things the way a profesional team should be ran.

Justin Godsey: You scored your 1st Pro Goal with Ventura how did it feel getting your 1st goal?

Rodrigo Lopez: Don’t quite remember that first goal but i had a good season with them. I was able to get lots of minutes which i think i needed.
Justin Godsey: During your tenure there how has Head Coach Graham Smith help you?
Rodrigo Lopez: Coach Smith  was phenomenal. Always positive with me, always pushed me in a positive way. He has helped me keep my career going. Coach Always gave everyone a chance to show what they can do, if they performed he helped them get to bigger better stages. Im was very fortunate to have landed with Ventura Fusion. Coach Smith till this day is the person helping me with my career.
Justin Godsey: You played for a short time in Mexico tell us about your time in Mexico playing
Rodrigo Lopez: Playing in Mexico was a great experience for me. It was a horrible start! I was lied to many times before i left US to go play in Mexico. I was told i would be making great money for it being a 2nd div team and i would play 1 season there then send me to First div team. When i arrived things wernt what i expected. I was offered a contract. With season starting in a week and having no other options i signed. I was able to get valuable min in a very competetive leauge. Athletes have it very easy here in the US, being 2nd div in mexico is a struggle. I was highest payed player on my team. It would kill me to see some of my teamates not have food to eat sometimes because they would backtrack our pay. At one point we went 3 months without a receiving a penny. It was a wake up call for me! I never wanted to go through that again. I learned not to trust people when then promise you the world.This year  Made me a better person and player.
Justin Godsey: From Mexico you moved your way back up to Ventura County to help win the 2009 PDL Championship and won the

MVP award, How big was it winning the MVP Award adding that to your Soccer Resume?
Rodrigo Lopez: HUGE!!! I had already went to Portland for trial weeks prior to the Championship game. They had liked me but i think that MVP award put the Iceing on the cake. Coach Graham Smith told me the News after we won the Championship that i would be joining the Portland TIMBERS. Not a bad night at all 🙂
Justin Godsey: What is next for Rodrigo Lopez in 2012 ?
Rodrigo Lopez: As of now im free agent. I was called in By San Jose Earthquakes to Camp, but i picked up a minor injury before so as of now I am getting healthy and soon as im 100% i will be joining San JOSE earthquakes for Pre season. Its the worst feeling in the world for a soccer player. Being injured not being able to do what you love the most is tough. I have to stay mentally and physically prepared for what comes my way. But Rodrigo Lopez Soccer career doesnt end in 2012 there is lots more to come.

Personal Questions:

Justin Godsey: How do you keep in contact with fellow fans?

Rodrigo Lopez: I try to stay contact via. Facebook or twitter. Try to keep people updated with what im doing what goes on in my life.

Justin Godsey:  Do you play the Fifa Games? If so do you play as yourself ?

Rodrigo Lopez: Yes i play Fifa. I dont play it much but i am Good at it. I dont play with my own character. Usually when im home in the Off season is when i play the most against my brother. My record against him is legit.

Justin Godsey: What is the hardest team you faced in the MLS?
Rodrigo Lopez:  I would have to say that DC United team in 2005. Had some ballers!
Justin Godsey: Do you watch other sports? If so what is your favorite teams?
Rodrigo Lopez: Big LAKER Fan. Remember people there is only 1 show in LA and thats the “LAKESHOW”
Rodrigo’s Final Sendoff: Big thank you to P3 Elite Training! If you want to become a better athlete P3 is the place to be.