Union spotlight: Chris Seitz, the 22-year old veteran

Posted on 13 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Chris Seitz wasn’t fazed when he started for the University of Maryland in the College Cup final in 2005. The Terps won. He wasn’t rattled, either, when he was between the pipes for a strong US U-20 squad that upset Brazil in group play during the 2007 U-20 World Cup. The Yanks won. And even though he didn’t start at the MLS Cup, Seitz wasn’t fazed in contributing to what turned out to be a MLS Championship season for Real Salt Lake in 2009. So what makes you think he’d be anything but excited about going down in history as the first goalkeeper to start a match for the Philadelphia Union? If that ends up being the case come March 25th, he will be the youngest goalkeeper in Major League Soccer to ever do so.

He has the resume of a seasoned veteran and yet, it’s hard to fathom that the California native is only 22 years old. Coaching and an intense work ethic has fashioned that over the years. He plays older than he is, something that is a necessity for a position that can see the whole field, organize the defense, and ultimately requires pointed communication. He can also save a shot or two we hear. ASN Philly got the chance to chat with Seitz, the favorite for the Union’s number one jersey, about the preseason ‘dogfight’ ahead, his past Major League Soccer experience, and the support that Philadelphia has already displayed for both him and the Union.

ASN Philly: How has the first phase of training camp been going?

“It’s good, there obviously has been a lot of emphasis on getting fit down here as well as team bonding. Been touching the ball as of late so that’s always fun as a soccer player. It’s a long camp but at the same time it has gone by quick cause we’re getting a lot of training in”

ASN Philly: It’s clearly going to be a dogfight between you, Brad [Knighton], and Brian [Perk] but what are your thoughts on the strong possibility of being the first keeper in to start the first game ‘between the pipes’ for the Philadelphia Union?

“I think they did a good job in bringing in three young, competitive goalkeepers. It helps everyday with training.  It keeps us all on our toes and keeps us all fighting to become better. And, as a goalkeeper, that’s really all you can ask for. If it all plays out right and I’m given the number one jersey then I’ll obviously be very excited and very honored and do the best I can for the Union. But until then I gotta fight every day and earn that position. I’m looking forward to the battle and looking to continue it all the way through preseason”

ASN Philly: How has it been “reuniting” with former Maryland goalkeeping coach Rob Vartughian?

“It’s good. He coached me at Maryland and helped me in a very important time there. He helped me become a professional. It’s good to be back with him because it’s obviously a higher level with him and it’s good to see him again and get some good training. He’s a professional at his job and I just look to him to get better”

ASN Philly: Being the youngest trio of keepers in the league, have the veteran defenders shared any advice with defensive set-up, tactics, your play in general?

“We obviously have some seasoned veterans in the back. Danny [Califf] was over in Europe, Jordan [Harvey] has been in the league for quite a while, Shavar [Thomas] is not in yet but he’s obviously experienced as well. But at the same time, I think Brad [Knighton]and I have been in the league for the last three or four years and we’ve been through the ropes with Salt Lake and New England. We always have something to learn though. We’re obviously listening with open ears and all that but at the same time we bring in confidence and we bring in the idea of being there before.  So I think it’s a little mixture of both”

ASN Philly: What do you think you’ll be able to take from your experience as an “understudy” to Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando?

“Nick Rimando is obviously a great goalkeeper. I trained hard everyday at Salt Lake and it was a battle for us. He’s a seasoned veteran and that’s what they were looking for at that position and that’s what they went with. He’s a great goalkeeper and I think I’ll take a lot from him. He has been there the whole time I had been there so I’ve been training with him for three years so I took a little bit here and there from him and it’s been good. I can hopefully bring that to my game and you can learn from all goalkeepers, bring a little of what they have to offer into your game and make yourself a more complete goalkeeper”

ASN Philly: You had been looking to get out of Salt Lake for some time before the trade to Philly. What was your initial reaction to the fact that the Union wanted to sign you?

“When Peter gave me a call and when Salt Lake brought me in and let me know the trade had gone down, I was obviously very excited. I left the team right after a Championship but, at the same time, it was important. Important for me to progress in my career, to find a new club to try and seek more playing time. It’s very important for me to get playing time, not just training. I was eager to find somewhere that I could hopefully go to and battle and play more games. When Peter gave me a call and said they had made a move for me, it felt good. But at the same time, it’s time to get down to training and earn a spot on this team just like anyone else. I’m excited for the opportunity”

ASN Philly:  Had there been any other contact with other clubs before Coach Nowak made the trade?

“It has been three years of being in this league and three years of not playing so there’s obviously been some clubs interested in trying to get me. I’m not going to say any names or anything like that cause obviously nothing ever came through. They could never finalize a deal and Salt Lake was happy with me and at some points, I was definitely happy to be in Salt Lake”

ASN Philly: There will be over 40 Sons of Ben and Union supporters present at the preseason match tonight vs. UNC, what does it mean to you to have this support (and this is just a tease of what’s to come) and how does it differ to the support you received in Salt Lake?

“It’s fantastic. I think all the guys are excited to hear that there are traveling fans to come to a preseason game in North Carolina. We obviously appreciate it and now we need to focus on giving them a good show, get down to work, and taking care of business on the field. We’re all very excited that they’d make the trip down. We never really had that sort of following with Salt Lake, it’s obviously a smaller community and environment but the Sons of Ben are a fantastic supporters group. We’re excited that they’re making the trip down”

ASN Philly: What are realistic expectations for the team this season? Expectations for yourself?

“I want to put the team first. I think what we want to do is come out and start off right. Obviously, we have quite a few road games in the beginning but we want to get off to the right start. It all starts here in preseason and we want to worry about getting the work in now because if we get the work in now and we play well now and we learn each other’s abilities and we learn each other’s movement then when the season comes it becomes a lot easier for us. So I think everyone of us is just worrying about putting the work in now and learning from each other and translating that to on the field”

Seitz on the left and rookie Toni Stahl, Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union

ASN Philly Reader Questions

@equusdraco said…What do you all do with your down time?

“I think a lot of guys are getting their feet up. Watching TV shows, playing cards, something that’s relaxing around the hotel. No one’s really getting out and traveling around because we have a lot training and a lot of work ahead of us so we’re really just staying in the hotel and hanging out. A lot of guys either play cards in their room, down in the lobby,or hang out and play the guitar. Quite a few guys play the guitar. So it’s a little bit of everything”

@Bryan_SoB asked…Who is the cardshark in the locker room?”

“Cardshark? It goes around. We haven’t been playing poker that much. we’ve been playing a lot more of 22 and different card games. So it varies. But definitely the veterans”

@equusdraco asked…Who controls the iPod in the locker room?

“Well, we’ve made a couple – at least my car has made a mixtape or two for the car rides to and from training. I was actually in charge of the first one but there’s been quite a bit of training so they might be looking for a second mixtape. We’ll probably give that job to someone else”

@equusdraco asked…What match are you looking forward to the most?

“The first match. Obviously, it’s a long ways away. That’s what all preseason is for, to get ready for that first match. So I think we’re all really excited take it our way. We’re all looking forward to Seattle, the first game, away”

@SoccerTwit…How does a goalkeeper’s approach change playing behind 3 in the back vs. 4?

“Keepers approach. With four in the back, it’s a more traditional line-up obviously. There’s more people in front of you so you’re more worried about getting everyone more organized and facing the ball. With three in the back, it’s more positional, more zonal, and you’ve got to worry about making sure everybody is in the right area and covering the right space. So that’s just one little thing. There’s obviously a lot that goes into a formation and a lot that a goalkeeper has to think about when formations change and so forth”

@MLisinPA…Who is the team comedian?

“I’d have to go with Sebastian [Le Toux]. He’s definitely very outgoing and very funny. He likes to sing and he likes to give a dance or two so we all enjoy it and he’s a really good guy. So it has been fun”

ASN Philly: Chris, thank you for the time and good luck today and with the rest of preseason. The Union will take on UNC-Chapel Hill today at 7PM.

If you like this, check out Breton’s other interviews and Q&As with Shea Salinas, Amobi Okugo, Brian Perk and Nick Zimmerman

0 Comments For This Post

1 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by phillyunionASN: New story: Union spotlight: Chris Seitz, the 22-year old veteran http://union.american-soccer-news.com/?p=914

Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here