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August 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM

A stop and chat with Blair Gavin

gavin chatReporters got a chance to talk to Sounders FC midfielder Blair Gavin after Friday’s practice. The 24-year-old signed with Seattle on Wednesday.

Coach Sigi Schmid explained that Gavin met the categories for a developmental spot on the roster (the Sounders had one open) and that he’s more of a signing with an eye toward impacting next year: “I just think he needed to get back into day to day training with an MLS team to get back to the level and the point where he was at. Obviously when he came out of college he was a guy we were very interested in.”

Schmid praised Gavin’s vision and said “he’s a midfielder who knows how to get open, who sees the ball, who has a feel for the game and is able to play the ball forward.”

Here is a transcript of our interview with Gavin:

*     *     *

(How does it feel to be signed?) “It’s crazy. It’s a great feeling. It’s still sinking in. This club is unbelievable. I’m very blessed and thankful for this opportunity. I hope that this is a mainstay for me.”

(How would you describe your first three years in the league?) “It’s been a lot of optimism, and then a lot of injuries have come and kind of crushed that, unfortunately. I think it’s part of the game and part of life, but I think I’ve rebounded very well each time and keep jumping up and keep fighting back. I’m very thankful for Seattle and (coach Sigi Schmid) for giving me this opportunity, where a lot of clubs shied away from it. He was there and has a lot of faith in me. I hope I can return that with quality of play on the field.”

(Were you supposed to be here in preseason? How did the talks start up again?) “Preseason was weird. I got in like a car accident and my back kind of gave out on me. I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to play again. I saw some good doctors, went home, started doing some rehab process, then went out to California to do some training and went out to IMG Academy with Scott Dean and started playing PDL just to get games and training every day. That kind of tested my body in the Florida heat and extreme conditions down there. I came out on top and talked to these guys and they were interested to see me, and now I’m here.”

(Did you play with Steve Zakuani at Akron?) “Yeah. It was a fun time in college. Fun times. It was good watching him dribble through whole teams. I’d pass it to him behind (midfield), and he dribbles and scores, and I get an assist. It was cool.”

(What is this weekend going to be like?) “It’s going to be fun. I played both teams but I’ve never been part of a rivalry like this. Just exciting. There is a big buzz around the stadium. You just want to beat the other guys. That’s it. It’s cool. A know a lot of other guys, so it’ll be fun to talk to them and hang out with them, but at the end of the day on Sunday, it’s business. It’s been business this whole week. They’re doing well. I think we can get better. We have so much talent; it’s ridiculous.”

(Is Caleb Porter the same in MLS from what you can tell?) “Yeah, Caleb’s a very passionate guy. He works hard. He’ll always try to outwork the next person, the next coach. He finds his best team, motivates his team, gets them ready to go. They’ve been flying this whole year. They’ve done well. They have a lot of emotion behind their games. That’s something we’re going to match and I think the play will come out at the end of the day.”

(You mentioned you weren’t sure if you’d play again after the car accident. Did you think about retirement? ) “Yeah, when I got in the accident and hurt my back, it just kind of felt like the whole world was against me. I didn’t think (my back) was it all right. I thought the easier way would just go and maybe start coaching or go back to college. It was a lot of soul searching and I fought through it and trained hard and kept going, and now I’m here. What else can I ask for?”

(What motivated you through that?) “Just the love of the game. It’s something that I’m very passionate about. I think I have a lot to give to the game still. I’m young, I’m 24, so I think there’s a lot of time for me to grow and fill those expectations I had from a long time ago.”

(Any affects still from the injury?) “No, but it’s something I’m aware of and it’s something that I’m proactive about. We have a great training staff here. … (Head athletic trainer Randy Noteboom), all those guys. Just staying a step ahead. Injuries are part of the game, unfortunately, but there are ways where you can be proactive … that’s what I’m doing.”

(Does this feel like a chance for you to start over?) “Somewhat, yeah. I think it’s just the club itself. I feel like it’s extreme professionalism everywhere — top to bottom — training facilities and everything. It just feels like a good fit. Everything about it. I have all the tools in front of me now. It’s whether or not I go and take them.”

(What have the coaches told you about your role?) “They like me centrally. They like kind of the guy that can link the game midfield-wise. I still need to get training and play more games and get it figured out and get back to speed. Being out of an MLS team for roughly 5-6 months is tough. But it’s good, they’re pulling me back to speed and they’ve got a lot of confidence in me, not to dwell on my mistakes and keep pushing. To answer your question, I think it’s center mid, a little bit higher, and just kind of link the game and get the game flowing.”

(What do you hope to learn from the experienced players here?) “How to be a professional. How to sustain a career, as well as spacing and technically. We have a lot of guys, Alonso, Brad, Clint now, Shalrie — all these guys who have played at a very high level. It’s a blessing for me to be able to come and watch them train, play with them and show them the energy I give every day. That’s what I have to do, to try and maybe outthink them in training and stuff like that. It just gets better and better. That’s why the level is so high here. It’s fun.”

(What’s it like being on the same time as Shalrie Joseph after being part of a trade for Shalrie Joseph?) “We laughed about it. I think it’s kind of funny that we both ended up here, but I’m glad. I’m happy for Shalrie to be here, as well. He’s a great player and he’s been great for a long time — a while. It’s fun to just train with him and learn from him, just his ability to push pressure and make an impact every time he steps on the field. Yeah, so I think he’s glad that he’s here. You can ask him. I think he’d say he’s happened to be here. Its cool he’s here and to get to train with him and learn from him.”

(Is the mustache coming back?) “Possibly. I was thinking about Movember. I’m still going over it. I’ve got to do some prep work first.”

(What did you make of all the attention it got? Were you surprised?) “You know, I was surprised because I didn’t really think it was a big deal. Then I saw that picture and said that’s absolutely insane … (laughs). My mom was just shaking her head like whatever.”

(And how about the ref in that picture?) “That’s funny. He was just, ‘Can I grow that?’ It was funny. It caught like wildfire, but it’s fun though.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats

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