Growing up, you played for FC Dallas's developmental academy team. How did playing for a DA club play a role in your development?
I was very fortunate that my years of soccer had the DA. Also I was very fortunate that I grew up in Dallas, Texas, where it's known for good soccer and good soccer clubs. FC Dallas DA was amazing and took the professional game and system to youth soccer. Oscar Pareja - now the head coach of the pro team - was my academy coach. There no words to describe what a fantastic coach he is. Every training was competitive. The academy prepared me over and above for college. When I would tell coaches I played for FC Dallas Academy, they were all over me and impressed. Being under Oscar and [goalkeeper coach] Drew Keeshan gave me knowledge of the game no youth club would give you. It was great that I even played up a year [for the U18 academy team] when I was 16, 17. It gave me the opportunity to have higher training, even better shots, and also exposed me to the best colleges early.
Walk us through your college career. Where all did you play and what prompted transferring out of a school?
Midwestern State [D2 school near Dallas] was a good school but I redshirted my freshman year. It was good being close to home. I transferred to Western Illinois to get the D1 experience. I started my first preseason game then suffered a knee injury and in December I took off back home and proceeded to start coaching.
Western Illinois was hard because, for one, I didn't take a college visit. I just went off of pictures. I had a rude awakening once I was there. Let's just say it wasn't the nicest university and pictures are very deceiving. I didn't like the style of soccer they were playing either. I'd also like to add, no matter D1, D2, or D3, people always have a excuse for not making it to the pros. Just remember talent always shows. People always want the end product: the fame, the glory, but not the hard part in middle. My keeper coach always used to ask me "How many hours do you train a day?" I'd say "Three to five hours a day." He would say "That's why you haven't made it yet. Ronaldo, Messi, Tim Howard the deserve all the glory and fame because there talent shows and they put in the work." Bottom line is anyone can make it to the pros but you have to want to work hard and push your body to the limit. It doesn't matter where you came from, it matters what you do on field.
After year and half off, I said "Why not go back to college?" I picked the nicest and closest school to a beach, which was University of Tampa. It was a top 10 D2 school but the most beautiful school and facilities.
Typically professional goalkeepers come from D1 schools. In your case, did transferring help or hurt your pro aspirations?
Like you said, typical goalkeepers come from D1 schools, yes, because it's a title thing. The only difference between D1 and D2 is the amount of gear or number of sports at the school. People have assumptions that D1 is better then D2 schools. Fortunately for me, I got to see both sides of the board. University of Tampa was in the best conference in D2 my year [that I played]. Five of the teams in conference were top ten, also [we had the returning] national champions.
Being at University of Tampa, I won almost every award I could. Top of conference for saves in game, saves in season, shutouts, goals against and I caught a lot of eyes. People don't understand D2 is just as good as D1. We beat USF - a top D1 school - while I was there. I was lucky our coach, Adrain Bush, is world class and well known coach in the soccer world. In my season, Philadelphia Union came in and wanted to do preseason at the university. They saw me play and invited me to preseason. I trained all of preseason in Clearwater [Florida] where I was with top goalkeepers Raïs M'Bolhi (Algeria national team goalkeeper), Andre Blake, and John McCarthy, who was just coming off winning USL's best goalkeeper award. You can imagine the excitement I had being in that environment. While there I was invited to Columbus Crew's preseason. And there I caught the eyes of Arizona United. In less than a week and half I was there and signed.
You spent a season with Arizona United in the USL. What's something about the league that outsiders and fans don't completely understand?
For me, Arizona United was a great step into the professional game. After the season, it made me even hungrier to go to even higher leagues and play more games. A couple things USL fans don't understand: when you watch a game and fans are like, "I can do that. That's easy. You can see it from way up here," or "I could have saved that." People don't get how fast it is. They don't notice the little things that happen. The USL is growing tremendously, not only level of play but also fan wise. The biggest thing for me was the high you get from the fans when you make a save or warming up. It's a feeling like no other. People yelling your name cheering, booing, doesn't matter. That's the thrill and what pros live for: that huge save in a game or the goal you score. Goalkeepers, either you make it or break it. That's what I love about goalkeeping.
You've travelled across the world to play for Bayangol FC in Mongolia's premier league. First of all, how did you end go from Arizona to Mongolia?
I got a call from Austin Rogers here saying he "tore his knee. Could you fill in for me? We need a goalkeeper bad. We are on international break and you'd come in right when the second half of season starts." He showed coaching staff my video and CV and a week and half later I was on a flight there and signed. I wanted to come here because I always wanted to see the world. Why not do it while playing professional soccer?
Describe the level of play in Mongolia. What's something you didn't expect to experience over there?
The level here is very good. The teams here could compete with top USL teams and the top clubs here with MLS clubs. I didn't expect how fast and technical they were. Also, as I like to say, very cheeky. A lot like Spanish soccer. It's very competitive here and most teams here are in the Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. So you can imagine the rivals and how people talk when someone beats one anther. It's kind of like Mexico versus USA every game.
Apparently you've already set a record in Mongolia. What record did you set and how did that unfold?
I set the records for saves in a game for the league. It happened in the second game I was here. During the game, you don't think about it. You don't realize how much you save. At half time it was 2-0 with ten saves. At this point, like I talked about before, I was on a game high. The saves I was making were saves you watch on YouTube, saves goalkeepers dream of. By the second half, the other team kept coming and shooting. I had even more saves and even better saves. At the end of the game and that night I had multiple clubs write saying what an amazing game I had, saying "You're the best goalkeeper in Mongolia." That day my coach calls me and said "You know how many saves you made?" I said "Maybe 10-12." He replied "22." I couldn't believe it until I started watching the film on it.
What's a question you're commonly asked as an American in Mongolia?
After my first game here I had three clubs ask for me to transfer and try to trade for me. The call me "The Cowboy" here since I'm from Texas. That's all they know about Texas: cowboys. Being here a lot, I've become very popular in community. People will stop me and ask, "American footballer?" I say "Yes." They'll shake my hand and want to take pictures with me. They always ask me where I get my cleats and gloves since you really can't find that stuff here. So when I bring out new gear they're all in shock. I always try to give my gloves away to fans after games when I'm done with gloves or not going to use them again.
Last question, you've played against a lot of teams and players. Who's the best player you've ever played against?
The best player I've ever played against was Andre Blake. His style of goalkeeping was the best I've ever seen. The way he makes saves is the most insane thing you'll ever see goalkeeper-wise. It's great I still talk to him and stay in contact.