Former Gamecock excels in professional soccer.
Blake Brettschneider (photo courtesy of DC United)
March 31, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
Former South Carolina men's soccer player Blake Brettschneider was selected by DC United in the MLS Supplemental Draft in mid-January, he recently took time out of his busy training schedule to speak with GamecocksOnline.com about his first few months in Major League Soccer.
Q: Congratulations for earning a contract with DC United in just your first season after college. Talk about your journey to this point since the MLS Combine in early January.
A: The process since the combine has been a long one, and at times somewhat stressful. Yet, at the same time, it's extremely exciting and something that I'll never forget. Being drafted by DC, a club with such history and success and in such a big city like our nation's capital, was tremendous. I was never sure where I would be drafted or if at all, but luckily things worked out in the end. As for the preseason, it's been tough and demanding but very rewarding too. I've been training and traveling with some great guys, and I think I'm playing some of my best soccer.
Q: Have you noticed any major changes from the college game to the professional game?
A: Some of the biggest changes from the college level to the pro level is the speed and physicality of the game. The players are bigger, stronger and faster. When I first started I struggled with the speed of play but as time goes on and I get more comfortable I can feel myself settling in and playing better. It's an up and down learning process, so not getting too frustrated when things don't go well is key in a transition process such as this.
Q: Will you be playing the same position that you played at South Carolina in the MLS? Does DC United have a similar style of play to South Carolina?
A: I've played a little bit of forward and some out wide since I've been with DC, but I think that most of my time will be spent up top just like at USC. Our playing style isn't too different here at DC than we had at USC. We play a 4-4-2, and we have a high emphasis on keeping the ball and trying to play attractive soccer that our fans will enjoy watching and ultimately help us win games.
Q: Describe the lead up to and celebration after your first professional goal.
My first goal was against Ventura County Fusion out in Ventura, California. We played the ball wide to our left midfielder, and he beat his man down the line. As he got to the end line he just chipped it to the back post to the six-yard box to me. I took one touch and put it low and on frame.
Q: Josh Wolff, another Gamecock alumnus, is a teammate of yours on DC United. Talk about what that means to you, both of you playing professionally and representing South Carolina.
A: Having Josh on the team is pretty cool. People are always really surprised when they find out that we both went to USC, and actually went to the same high school as well. We have talked about Carolina a few times and have had a few good laughs. He's a U.S. soccer legend and was great at USC, too. To be able to have a connection with him like we do is really invaluable for me. I have a lot to learn about being a pro, and he is one that I try to watch and learn as much as I can from.
Q: You've already traveled across the country with DC United. Talk about some of the venues you have played in and the overall experience.
A: Well, we have been all over the country already and to be honest some of the venues have been good, and some haven't been the best. But that's part of being a pro I guess, being good enough to adapt. The hotels and traveling can be exhausting, but at the same time I love it because you get to see the country, and I feel very fortunate to have that opportunity. DC is a club that really takes care of its players and goes the extra mile to make sure that we have what we need in order to perform at our best. Overall, it has been excellent so far, but I think I may set a record for consecutive days in a hotel!
Q: What is a typical DC United practice like?
A: I wouldn't say there is a "typical" DC practice. Practice changes from day to day depending on how close we are to a game or if we just played. Typically we go through an extensive warm-up to make sure no one picks up injuries when we start training. Then we might do some small-sided drills or technical work. From there we might increase the number of players involved in drills and the size of the field. Then to close practice we do a lengthy cool down and stretch. Lots of players will do ice baths or use other recovery techniques to make sure they're ready for the next day.
Q: After a successful college career, and now moving on to the professional game, what advice do you have for younger soccer players who strive for some of those same goals?
A: If I had to give advice to any younger player aspiring to be a pro, I would tell them to stay positive. Things are not always going to work out exactly like you want. There will be ups and downs, but not letting yourself get too down is a must. And finally, play because you love it and don't forget why you play. Soccer can be demanding but also very rewarding, too.
Photos courtesy of DC United