Our third, and final installment, in our Preston Zimmerman conversation as he answers the questions that you asked him right here on TSG:
Below are the answers to these questions. Hopefully I’ve answered them well and covered everything. I will talk to you later….
1. (from Jared): Preston, I was curious if you have seen a shift in how Europeans view American soccer players over the past few years? Is it getting any better like we’re often led to believe?
What has to be done to take the next step?
Preston: >I can’t speak for all Europeans but I think that American soccer players have gained a rather favorable image in Europe over the past few years. We are seen as very good athletes who sometimes lack an ability to properly recognize all tactical situations out on the field. I am not talking about all American players though. Obviously some have got it down in every aspect of the game.
As far as whether our image is getting any better or not, who knows, I can only draw from my personal experiences. I have heard many comments against Americans as well as some compliments as to how athletic we are and ahead in that part of the game. Tactically, americans as a whole need to improve (me included of course).
I don’t know what the next step is for Americans so that we will be put on the same level as Germans, Brazilians, Spaniards etc. I suggest we emulate and copy the Germans, Brazilians, and the Spaniards as their styles/philosophies are, in my opinion, the most successful in the world game.
2. (from Futbol America) I am curious though; in the future do you see yourself going back to striker? Or do you see yourself as more of a Clint Dempsey ‘striker when-I-have-to’ or ‘midfielder when-needed’ position?
Preston: I’ll go back to striker if one of my coaches in the future decides he wants to play me there. In Hamburg, I came in as a striker, and then we moved out wide on the left. In Austria, I came in as a striker and then was moved out wide on the right. In Mainz, I came in as a striker and now play out wide on the right and left and also have played right back with the first team. I don’t care where I play, as long as I play. Each position is a challenge and I am just as excited to play right back as I am striker or midfield.
I don’t see myself as more of a Clint Dempsey kind of guy at all though. Dempsey is very, very good. But his style is very different from mine. The only person I try to model my game after is Ivica Olic. While he was at Hamburg, I just wanted to work like him and be just like him. I have become more and more versatile but not because I have asked to be, my coaches have just moved me around and they know I don’t have a problem with it. The one thing I can do in every position though is work and run more than anyone else, and I try to do that just like Olic.
3. (from Steve): I have a question for preston: what are you most looking forward to improve in your game to help get your play to the next level?
Preston: What I have come to learn is that the most important thing in football is confidence. If you believe you can do anything, then you’ll go out and do it sooner or later, even if you don’t have the best technique or athletic ability.
I have seen players fight their way through only because they had this unbelievable self-image where they were almost ‘arrogant’ but truly believed they could do anything. I need to work on the mental aspects of my game (as well as everything else of course like everybody) and gain this kind of self-image so that I have it all the time, and not just sometimes.
Football is only about confidence and I need to be more confident than the others without being arrogant. I believe in my abilities but I could work more on how my mind works and how I can transform a healthy mind into an unstoppable player. I am taking the steps needed to work on that and improve in this area. Everything is a process.
I want to improve my tactical understanding as well. So I am watching and analyzing video on a daily basis now, something I used to never do. All of these things will help me.
4. (from Jay) Do you ever try to reach out to other Americans in Germany? I know you said that you don’t want to be known as “the Americans,” but a lot of clubs and leagues sign a lot of players of the same nationality and it seems to work for them?
Preston: I don’t necessarily try to reach out to other Americans while in Germany. I mean I have some friends who play here who I knew before from the national team or whatever and we will talk from time to time but I don’t try to get a hold of guys I don’t really know though. Those people I don’t know would probably only think I want something from them anyways and I wouldn’t want them to think that.
TSG will be keeping in touch with Preston from time to time.