Most Houston area soccer fans don’t know the great history of players that have gone on to MLS. Imad Baba, Nidal Baba, Johnny Torres, Rusty Pierce, Chris Gbandi, Sam Forko, Willis Forko, current Dynamo players like Tyler Deric, Alex Dixon and many others who all played or play in Major League soccer.
Josh Gardner grew up in the Bear Creek Area, played for the Hurricanes Youth Soccer Club (now Albion-Hurricanes) before playing at the University of Cincinnati. Gardner left college early and signed Nike project 40 with the LA Galaxy. His career has taken him to Seattle, Carolina Railhawks, Columbus, Montreal and he comes to town now as a member of Sporting Kansas City after starting and playing 75 minutes against Seattle in a 1-0 loss on Wednesday.
How do you like playing for Sporting KC?
The first part is the city of Kansas City loves their soccer team. I think that Sporting KC they do a good job of being in the community and making the fans feel a part of the game and the team. Every game is a celebration, a party from the opening kickoff to the end of the game.
What is it like playing for manager Peter Vermes?
Playing for Peter is amazing. I respect his knowledge of the game and his drive to compete. He has put together a coaching staff that believes in the players and the system they have.
Training is intense. He has brought in guys that are hungry and have won before.
He sees potential in every player and brings that drive out of players that might not think they have it. He makes you feel wanted and that you have a-lot more to give.
What is your role on Sporting KC?
My role when called upon is to be ready to be a left back or left winger, to help secure the left side of the field.
We have such a deep team that I need to be game ready when called upon. I will push those in front of me to be a starter. I am here to do what ever the team needs.
What are your thoughts on your Argentine striker Claudio Bieler?
He worked extremely hard in pre-season getting what we call is “Sporting” fit.
He gets in great positions and is an accurate finisher. He is comfortable back to goal and being a link player with his midfield or wingers.
He is a character and his English is not great but he still finds ways to communicate and be willing to communicate in our locker room culture.
You grew up playing youth and high school soccer in Houston, what crosses your mind when thinking about your upbringing in the game?
Being able to turn pro out of Houston was prideful as many went on to higher levels before me.
I can go back and remember my youth games and it reminds me of a fun time and educational time in my career.
I still think about the club (Hurricanes Soccer Club) that I grew up with and those times.
As a youth we played different teams with differing styles due to the diversity of Houston. Their is a sense of pride with Houston soccer history.
What type of game do you think it will be Sunday?
Knowing the history between the teams I look forward to a highly competitive game between clubs that look to win every game either home or away.
It is a conference match and we want to put our stamp on the game.
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