Real Salt Lake begins meaningful play on February 22. The team is coming off its most successful season, in which they broke a number of MLS records, including least amount of goals allowed and longest streak of unbeaten matches at home.
Midfielder Andy Williams has been with the club since its founding and remains a fan favorite. He graciously agreed to participate in a recent email interview with Rhombus. You can read the full interview below:
Rhombus: Did you choose your jersey number and, if so, why #77?
Andy Williams: When I first started with RSL, my number was 7, but after my second year my contract didn’t get picked up so I considered myself a new player with a new number the following year. So two 7′s were better than one.
R: Real Salt Lake has a very important season coming up. For those who don’t know, explain what it would mean for Real Salt Lake to win the CONCACAF tournament this year and who RSL could end up playing.
AW: To put it in simple terms, it’ll be like a World Cup for our club and players. We are taking these games extremely seriously as we want to be the first MLS club to reach this prestigious tournament. The possibilities of playing teams like a Barcelona, Inter Milan and other world-class teams would be an honor for us.
R: Your teammate, Javier Morales, recently stated that he thinks Real Salt Lake could win the treble this year (CONCACAF, MLS Cup, and MLS Supporter’s Shield). What are your thoughts?
AW: Bold words coming from a bold player, but I would have to agree with him. Our team is not just our starting 11, we have a very, very deep and talented team. Yes, it is a lofty goal, but it is very possible for us and we all know this.
R: How have MLS and the Real Salt Lake fan base changed since you started playing, and what do you think soccer in the United States will look like 10 years from now?
AW: Since day one, they have been very supportive to our franchise, especially being so bad the first couple of years, but they still came out each game and cheered us on. I think we were in the top four teams in attendance even when we were horrible, but now they know the game a lot better, standing up throughout the entire game, cheering us on. Maybe that’s why we have this unbelievable unbeaten home streak going on right now.
R: Among all the leagues in the world, how would you rank MLS as far as quality of play?
AW: Personally, for me, I love the beautiful game. The way Barcelona is playing right now is breathtaking. You just have to sit there in awe, they are in a different league of their own. So the Spanish league would have to be two, then England at three, followed by the Dutch league. Fourth would be Mexican League, followed by Italian, and then a close sixth would [be] MLS. Of course, I am biased
R: What was it like going from playing alongside Jason Kreis to having him as your head coach?
AW: It wasn’t too weird at first, seeing that he was our captain and leader in the locker room and on the field before making the switch, so I was used to listening to him. The change for me came when he’s running the practice sessions, being on the sidelines blowing the whistle, but I’ve always respected him as player so now it [has] just changed to coach, that’s all.
R: From all your tweets and fan interaction, it seems as though you have really embraced Utah, more so than many other professional athletes. What do you like/dislike about Utah?
AW: I’ve loved Utah from the moment I got there. It is an awesome place to raise a family and mine absolutely love it here. We love our neighborhood and all the wonderful people we’ve met whilst living here. The landscape is beautiful, the mountains are spectacular. I could go on and on. We love it here. As for dislikes, one word: SNOW. I hate it. After one day, that’s enough for me.
R: Now that you have been here a while, what are your favorite restaurants in Salt Lake City?
AW: For restaurants, there are only three for us. At No. 3 would The Wild Rose at the District, No. 2 is Takashi downtown, and our No. 1 is Tiburon in Sandy. Absolutely love that place and the owner is [an] RSL fan too, but great food and lovely atmosphere.
R: How long would it take to grow your hair like current RSL captain Kyle Beckerman?
AW: That will never happen because I get easily irritated if I have anything on my head for too long. My head gets too hot.
You can follow Andy Williams on Twitter at @bommadog.
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