Q & A With Freshman Midfielder Ely Allen
Oct. 1, 2004
Ely Allen may be just a freshman, but the midfielder from Kent, Wash. has already made big contributions to the Husky men's soccer program. Allen has become a fixture in the starting lineup, starting eight of 10 games he has played thus far. He scored his first collegiate goal in UW's 2-0 victory over UC Irvine on Sept. 24. Allen also has an assist to his credit. He sat down with GoHuskies.com correspondent Mike Bruscas to talk about the differences between high school and college soccer, what it was like to play in Argentina with the U-18 National Team and what it felt like to score his first collegiate goal.
GoHuskies.com: What have been the biggest differences in collegiate soccer compared to high school?
Ely Allen: 'High school's nothing compared to college. Intensity-wise and everyone around you is good. In high school you go out there and do your own thing but here everyone's good so you can't go halfway, you have to give 100 percent all day. You've got to work for your spot. There's no letdown, everyone's out there trying to win. So it's a competitive atmosphere all the time.'
G.H.: What has been the toughest adjustment for you?
E.A.: Probably just concentrating on going out and giving 100 % every day. It's hard to do that every day.
G.H.: Are you more physically tired than you're used to?
E.A.: I'd say so, yeah. I've never been so worn out. But I've never caught a second wind like this either. It's weird, you wake up and you're just ready to play again. But we've got ice baths and we like to get in those because we're pretty sore most days.
G.H.: What was it like playing on the road so much to start your career?
E.A.: For me, I was new to it so I didn't really know what to expect but I liked it. Travel and see some scenery. I personally like playing away, too. Going and beating someone else in their own stadium is good experience. The atmosphere is loud, there are a lot of fans. It's nice. I like it.
G.H.: Were you expecting to come in and be a starter?
E.A.: I really wasn't sure. I thought it was up to preseason and two-a-days. I figured if I worked hard and matched everyone else around me I would probably do good. I guess I did so I'm working as hard as I can in the games now.
G.H.: What was it like to score your first collegiate goal?
E.A.: It was nice. I've been waiting for one all year. But once one drops, they're going to start dropping. Hopefully a lot more will fall in.
G.H.: Can you describe what happened on the goal?
E.A.: I'm playing left-mid so I was coming down the left wing and Kevin Forrest was coming down the right wing with the ball and he crossed it in and the keeper went up to grab it but he missed it and the ball bounced and came up. I was by the back post probably six or seven yards out and it bounced chest-high and I just got up with my right leg and pinged it in.
G.H.: What players have helped you with the transition the most?
E.A.: Michael Chabala, on the field and off the field he's a great person to talk to. He'll help you on the field and if you've got any questions you can give him a call. He's a nice guy and he's pretty much walked the freshman through it. He's helped all of us out.
G.H.: Was it tough to deal with the higher pressure of the college game?
E.A.: I've played in some high-pressure games but not consistently all year round. I knew I had to be consistent because if I messed up that could cost me my starting spot. You've just got to cope with it. We've got a guy named Dr. Dan who helps us with a bunch of stuff. He's a sports therapist and helps keep us calm.
G.H.: What was some of his advice?
E.A.: Visualize before games. That's the one I use the most. I take about five minutes and visualize a few things so they will happen.
G.H.: What are the biggest strengths of your game?
E.A.: I think getting the ball and going at somebody. I'm left-footed and I'm on the left side so if I can isolate somebody one-on-one I can just get at them, get down the line and cross it in, and we've got some good forwards who can get their head on it. Even Kevin Forrest in the back post. So probably getting at somebody one-on-one and probably shooting with my left foot, a nice hard shot.
G.H.: How is the team performing right now?
E.A.: I'd say we're not doing too bad. We're a team that can be a lot better. We started out well and then we've had a few games - I don't know if it's fatigue here at home - we just let the opponent get a goal. Like our last game Akron got a goal in the last 15 seconds, so we need to improve our mental toughness throughout the whole game and I'm sure we'll come through.
G.H.: What factors brought you to Washington?
E.A.: I came on my visit and I liked the guys and it was close to home. I knew they were good last year and I heard some of the guys they were recruiting this year. We're solid. We've got depth through the bench like nothing else. We can go through our bench and it's just like going through a starting lineup almost. So probably the guys and the location, it's right on the water. I knew we were going to be solid this year and have a chance to win a championship.
G.H.: You played in Argentina back in May. What was that experience like?
E.A.: It was crazy, I'd never really been out of the country and I got a chance to go to Argentina with the U-18 National Team. We played three teams including the U-20 National Team. I didn't really know what to expect, I didn't know any of the guys. There were a lot of East-coasters. But I got into trainings and it was nice, it's high-intensity like this. I think this is actually a lot higher to tell the truth though. I got in a few games once I progressed my way. The coach didn't know me at all so you've got to work your way up.
G.H.: What was the atmosphere like?
E.A.: There were some people that didn't like us down there. We'd walk outside the hotel and people would yell, `Pull out of Iraq,' and some were throwing stuff. It's kind of hostile but it was still fun.
G.H.: How is soccer viewed differently down there?
E.A.: Basketball courts up here are soccer courts down there. They've got cement soccer courts everywhere. If you're driving down the highway there are impoverished houses on each side about as big as this cubicle, maybe 10-yard by 10-yard shacks. And I guess what someone was saying is that they all have cable dishes because they'd rather buy cable and watch soccer than save up for a house.
G.H.: Are you nervous about your first day of classes?
E.A.: I don't know, I haven't been there for a while. It could be good. I'll meet a lot of people.
G.H.: What are you studying this quarter?
E.A.: I'm actually taking English and Engineering so that will be fun. I heard it's hard but if I follow through with it that could mean a lot of money in the future.
G.H.: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
E.A.: I like to play basketball, listen to music, hang out with friends. I go see movies and go to parks a lot. I played basketball all through high school.
G.H. Who were your favorite athletes growing up?
E.A.: Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Muhammad Ali.
G.H. Favorite movie?
E.A.: Mean Girls. Lindsay Lohan has got it going on.
G.H. What is the chemistry like on the team?
E.A.: It is really good. It's almost like another family. Everyone is there for everyone, and just one call away so it's cool.