Player Journal: Bobby Edwards, St. Joseph's University

cover photo belongs to Sideline Photos, LLC

Bobby Edwards is the starting goalkeeper at St. Joseph's University, where he recently completed his sophomore year in May. The 6'6" goalkeeper started fourteen games in both of his first two years at SJU and enters the summer with the New York Red Bulls U23s, alongside Eric Klenofsky (Monmouth) and Evan Louro (Michigan). Over the next two years, we'll track Edwards' progress with bi-monthly updates as he pursues his goal of becoming a professional goalkeeper.

As a 6’6” goalkeeper, there’s just as assumption that you’ll be great in the air and saves are rarely an issue because of your frame, unless the save is low. How much truth is there to this? How has being 6’6” affected your training?

Being tall has definitely given me certain advantages throughout my career. But there is an important distinction between being big and knowing how to use your size. If you tower over everyone and take up half the goal, but you have two left feet when it comes to movement and positioning, you won't be successful. Being big is a foot in the door, but it takes a lot of detailed training and experience to push that door open.
 
As far as high balls go, my height definitely is an advantage in being able to reach balls above attacking players. And yet it's my opinion that they are still one of the toughest situations for a goalkeeper to deal with. One second too late or one second too early can be the difference between a blunder or a great play. My size has saved me a lot of times by being able to make up for perhaps a misread ball or some sloppy footwork on high balls. I also have spent a good amount of time in the gym, trying to get stronger so I can go up in traffic and claim crosses. Having the extra power helps you win 50-50's in the air and makes it easier on yourself being that you aren't usually the one taking the beating in the battle. 
 
I have always heard that big keepers struggle to get down for low balls. My training has always put a lot of emphasis on working on responding to low balls, since in a certain sense there is a greater distance to cover for tall keepers. But with a longer wing span it is easier for big keepers to reach corners and pick the pockets, so I have learned how to compensate. 

As a taller keeper, I have always focused on, and still focus on, my movement, coordination and body control. The key for any keeper to get better is to put in a lot of work to strengthen their weaknesses. Having size means my strengths and weaknesses are different than other goalkeepers and vice versa, so in a sense yes, being big has affected my training.

St. Joseph’s finished 4-12-2 last year, following a 7-7-4 finish the year before. Where did y’all struggle this last year and what needs to happen moving forward into your junior year that will put St. Joseph’s on a more competitive platform?

Yeah, tough year to say the least. I experienced some of my lowest lows on the soccer field this past year, which was really tough mentally.

We lost three fourths of our starting back line, two of whom were captain center backs. As a freshman, I was fortunate to have an experienced back line that had already played together for three years. They had a cohesiveness that was built over time. Anyone who has played on a team over time knows that a solid back line isn't just about having the best players, it involves having a chemistry that enables the back line to work together as one unit. So losing that was tough. This isn't to say our rookies didn't do well this year, I think they did a great job being thrown into the fire their first year, but experience only comes from playing games. So naturally we didn't have the cohesiveness that we had had the year before. We made some mistakes out of a lack of experience, myself very much included.

 photo belongs to Sideline Photos

photo belongs to Sideline Photos

Pressure was also put on our back line because we struggled to score goals. If we gave up a goal, it sometimes felt like we had fallen into a hole that would be hard to come back from. You could see our heads drop after we gave up a goal and our morale took a hit. If we can get more dangerous up top, we take pressure off our backline, which will help us a ton. I'm hopeful that with the experience we gained last year, we will have more cohesiveness and with some talented guys coming in to add to the mix, our overall play will be significantly stronger.

Our whole team was young. We had only two seniors. The majority of our guys who stepped on the field were either first year players or starting for the first time. Again, I think our guys did well, but for a battle between experienced college players looking to go pro vs. our inexperience, it isn't always a fair fight. Chemistry, experience, size, leadership - these are all things that get better with time.

You’re training with the New York Red Bulls U23s this summer. What about their program made you want to train with them?

The New York Red Bulls are a class organization. From the first team to the youth levels, they play great soccer and have a great program. A lot of factors went into deciding to play with them for the summer, and it took a while to come to that decision. First, the staff, facilities, and team are all amazing with the Red Bulls. They create a competitive environment that is second to none, always pushing you to be better. You don't have time to coast there or take your foot off the gas. This ties into another huge reason I wanted to come back: the people training around me are elite players. Evan Louro and Eric Klenofsky are two of the best goalkeepers I have been able to play with so far in my career. Training with them allows me to learn a lot and find out what is working for them and see if I can implement it into my own game. Lastly, I have the amazing luck that RBNY is pretty much in my backyard. To get to the facilities it takes five minutes, and if I really needed to, I could probably walk to practice. This means I can live at home, and still be able to have my life here in New Jersey. Back in February, I blew out my 5th metatarsal (the bone on the side of your foot) which needed surgery and three-to-four months of rehab. That meant that my return to play was just about two weeks before the PDL season kicked off. I knew that if I wanted to get back to where I needed to be fitness wise, living at home would allow me to spend more time training in the gym and rehab.