Wolff - US Soccer
|July 19, 2001
Josh Wolff has
already had an impressive International career. On the US
Olympic team in Sydney 2000, he played in all six games and
scored two goals. His Olympic performance enabled the US to
finish in fourth place, which is the best result ever for a US
Team. Josh first appeared with the full US National Team in
September of 1999 vs Jamaica and scored his first goal in
October 2000 against Mexico. He was one of the top forwards on
the US Under-20 team at the 1997 World Championship in Malaysia
and was with the US at the World University Games in Italy in
1997. His darting speed and unpredictability make him an
attacking force on the US Team. A force that the rest of the
world will begin to notice in Korea / Japan in 2002. Josh
sustained an early season foot injury that has kept him out of
MLS and National Team action. He recently took some time to
answer questions for US Soccer Zone.com, about his injury, his
career and the US National Team.
You scored your first goal of your National Team career in
the 2-0 win against Mexico on Oct. 25, 2000 and then on Feb 28
of this year, you scored a goal and an assist in the crucial
game in Columbus, OH. You were awarded the Chevrolet Man of the
Match honors for your performance in that game. I am sure the
Mexican team was happy to see that you were not in the line up
earlier this month in Mexico City. What is it about Mexico,
that seems to bring out your best international games?
Josh: The two games against Mexico have certainly
proven to be helpful for my confidence. I have played a couple
of games against a couple of Mexican Club teams (Toluca and
Pumas). I did very well in both those games, so I think that
they allowed me to go into the matches against Mexico with a
little bit of a feel for how they play. I just try and be as
aggressive as possible and make them defend me for 90 min.
What is your most memorable moment in your International
career so far?
Josh: Most memorable
moment on the international scene is clearly the qualifier
against Mexico. I got an opportunity and I did not waste it. I
do a pretty good job of getting into the match when I come in as
a sub. I adjust to the game pretty quickly. And to be able to
contribute in a game of that stature was just and unbelievable
With the exception of the loss to Mexico on July 1st, the US
team has had tremendous success in the final round of
qualifying. What has Bruce Arena done to prepare this team so
Josh: I think the strength of Bruce is his honesty. If
your stinking it up, he will take you out, and if you are doing
well, he rewards you with playing time. He also will drop a few
things in your ear from time to time. Things to improve on, and
things to be aware of. Most of all he keeps it very competitive
in his training. There are spots open in the line-up because it
is so tight with who can start. This is a good thing for a
You and Clint Mathis seem to be very effective when on the
field together; does this chemistry come from complimentary
styles, good communication or both?
Josh: Clint and I have played together for a while
now. We have a very good understanding of one another. He can
deliver very good passes in and around the goal as well as be
dangerous from distance. I think we bring a certain aggression
to games, we take chances that may or may not work. That might
be something that we get carried away with at times also, but
the key for us is to be assertive and not be afraid to make
You have been unlucky in your career with injuries, how is
the foot progressing and what kind of rehabilitation will be
needed to become 100 % match fit again?
Josh: Well, my foot injury has been a bit of a pest.
The injury ended up being worse than first thought. Now I am out
of my walking cast, and am in a pool doing light exercises. It
will be a couple more months until I am able to run or play
again. We are taking it very conservative with the recovery
because I don't want to jeopardize being part of the World Cup
What have you been doing with your time since your injury,
especially since golf is out of the question?
Josh: I have played a little golf, since being hurt.
I have had to wear a boot for the last 6 weeks or so, and it
takes away all use of the foot. The boot absorbs all the
pressure, so walking around does not hurt my foot. I am not able
to do much else. No riding the bike, no Stairmaster, no
elliptical, and pretty much nothing that is impact related. In a
week or so I will be able to use the bike, which will be a nice
In the past ten years, the state of Georgia seems to have
become an emerging force in youth soccer development. The
National Youth Soccer Rankings have at least one Georgia team in
the top 25 in each age bracket. You and Clint Mathis are both
products of Georgia’s Youth Soccer Program, What has caused the
popularity of youth soccer to rise so much in Georgia, which is
traditionally known as a football and baseball area?
Josh: Soccer is just growing. Maybe that is the
reason. Florida, Texas, California and states in the Northeast
were typical soccer hotbeds. I think soccer is becoming a very
national sport. We are getting more and more exposure and I
think that helps even at the grassroots level. Kids have role
models to look up to, and its something the sport did not have
10 years ago.
You were assigned to the Chicago Fire as a Project 40 player
in 1998, Was it difficult for you to break into the Fire’s line
up and how do you see the Project 40 program progressing?
Josh: I came in with an optimistic view, yet
realistic. I knew it would take time for me to prove myself to
the coaches. They had to figure out a new team and its
personnel. And since I was part of P-40, I was guaranteed to be
part of the team. P-40 allowed me to play at least 2 games a
week, and then train with Chicago the other days. I scored a
bunch of goals with the P-40's and that is how I got my chance
with the Fire. Back when I was part of it we were playing in the
A-League, and that was great because we were playing all the
time and we were fit. So when I got my chance I was ready, and
not someone who was sitting on the bench for every game. It
seems to still be a strong avenue for young players.
All soccer players dream of playing in the World Cup. What
do you think that experience would be like?
Josh: I certainly am one who dreamed of playing in a
World Cup. Its tough to say. Being part of the Olympics was
incredible. Knowing the World Cup is such a bigger event than
even the Olympics, would make the experience euphoric. It would
be the highlight of my career. I just hope I get healthy and am
able to be part of it.
In your opinion what does MLS have to do, to develop a fan
base and work towards establishing itself as the fifth major
Josh: I think MLS is starting to get the right ideas.
We are getting Soccer specific stadiums. Which creates a demand
for tickets since we would not be playing in 60,000 seat
stadiums. We have more identifiable player, young and old. There
are more quality players in this country, due to the youth push
we are getting. The stadiums are a big deal. This would allow
clubs to generate money, which is what the owners want as well
as the league.
What kinds of things are the Chicago Fire doing to reach the
youth soccer community?
Josh: Chicago Fire does quite a bit to get out to the
communities. We created the "Fireworks for Kids Foundation", and
a youth team is in the works. Players do all kinds of
appearances like going to schools, being part of events in the
city, and doing soccer clinics. We have been very active since
day one, and that is a big part of our success.
What advice do you have for youth soccer coaches around the
Josh: For coaches, I would say to make sure the
players enjoy what they are doing. If the kids do not enjoy it
they will not want to learn. Once the kids are willing to learn
and have that determination then it is your job to teach. Make
sure there is communication, it is very important for kids when
they are 10 years old or 16 years old to get feedback. Players
need to know what they are doing well and what they need to work
You can visit the Official Josh Wolff Web Site at
http://www.joshwolff.net. On his site, you can
participate in the message board, read Josh's weekly journal and
of course, join the official Josh Wolff fan club. There is even
a memorabilia store where you can pick up autographed
merchandise. Joshwolff.net is the perfect way to follow his
career through the MLS season and all the way to the World Cup