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Future Focus: FC Delco and The Haverford School’s Max Kurtzman

Posted on 17 February 2011 by Breton Bonnette

One of the toughest things as an athlete is to overcome the adversity of a serious injury. It tests an athlete to the core. Will you come back the same? Can you stand that long spell on the sidelines?  US youth international, FC Delco and The Haverford School star Max Kurtzman can tell you first hand what it takes. After a junior season that saw him earn national attention (Top Drawer Soccer’s #1 GK recruit in 2009 and 2010) with FC Delco and Delco Player of the Year for the Haverford School, it was only right that his senior season would be full of more accolades all across the board. Instead a patellar fracture sustained in a collision during play with the Haverford School kept Max out from late September onward. Life went on, of course, and Kurtzman’s resolve and knowledge of the game became huge assets for his high school team as he manned the sideline essentially as a player-coach.  Instead of sulking, he watched from the sideline, supported his teammates, and worked on his own rehab as the months flew by. Flash forward to February 2011 and Kurtzman has committed to the University of Pennsylvania, coached by Rudy Fuller, where he will follow in a long line of impressive goalkeepers several of which went on to careers in professional soccer. He has the resume already to make a splash in University City and once fully healthy, you can expect Kurtzman to be a stronger, more driven, and incredibly hungry player for the Quakers.

ASN Philly put the Future Focus on Max as he continues his rehab and hopes to be ready for the summer of his first year at Penn:

Q: You’ll take your talents to UPenn next year and link up with Coach Rudy Fuller. What is it about Coach Fuller, his approach, and his style of play that made you want to join Penn’s program?

A: Coach Fuller, from day one of the whole recruiting process, has been straight forward and completely honest with me; his honest approach was a major factor with my commitment as I have known where I stand with him since I have starting the recruiting process. Penn’s defense, present and future, is very solid. With that, a major factor for me is their defensive leadership and strength in the program.

Q: Coach Fuller has an impressive crop of new recruits coming in, a class boasting three US youth internationals (including yourself), have you spoken to any of your new fellow classmates? What is it that Coach Fuller expects from his freshmen?

A: I have been in recent contact with not only Agye [Botchway] and Duke [LaCroix], but also a few of the other recruits as well. Coach Fuller expects us to come in and compete as hard as we can for a spot on the field from the start, just like every other player out there.

Q: You’ll follow in the footsteps of several great UPenn goalkeepers in Matt Haefner, Danny Cepero (formerly of the Red Bulls), and Drew Healy, what would you like to accomplish in your first year in University City?

A: I still have a lot to learn about the college game; I want to look up to the three goalies ahead of me and try to gain as much knowledge from them as I am able to. Obviously, I want to compete to get on the field as best I can.

Q: Both of your parents are Wharton graduates. You will also be entering Wharton come the fall. This may be a rhetorical question but was heading to UPenn a forgone conclusion? What is it you like so much about the place?

A: UPenn has always been a part of me, as both of my parents went there, and many family friends as well. The combination of academics, athletics, and social life made my decision very easy for me; on my visits to campus, I was shown a great time by not only the soccer team, but also but other students around campus that I know from either high school, or through mutual friends.

Q: You have endured an incredibly busy last couple years, playing with FC Delco, the Haverford School, and on the youth international level – does the juggling of time ever get old and overwhelming? How supportive and influential have your parents been in all of it?

A: The juggling of soccer, my academics, and social life has never been an easy task. I have been lucky enough to have my parents and friends there by my side to help me if I needed it; my parents show endless support to me in my soccer, and also my other sports, life, and extra curricular activities.

Q: We’ve asked this before to people and never quite received the most in-depth answers but we’re still curious. What is it about FC Delco that makes it one of the country’s premier soccer clubs?

A: The coaching staff. The coaches here at Delco are not just coaches, but they really connect with the players which allows a much closer, tighter knit environment for which to play in. Also, the players here are all very close. I can honestly say that playing with some of my best friends is a lot easier than playing with people I am not as close with, which makes playing with Delco that much easier, and makes our team better.

Q: Your biggest strengths, according to former coaches, is your constant communication with your backline and overall tactical awareness of the game. Would you say they are right? What is it that you are surveying and relaying to the defenders in front of you?

A: I would have to agree with them. Being behind the backline, and entire team, I am able to see the field, and know where the players are supposed to go. If a defender steps up, it only makes sense for the others to fill in the gaps behind or next to that defender. It is also very important to me to have a good relationship with my defenders so communication with them during games is that much easier.

Q: Entering into college, what would you say are the biggest things for you to work on this offseason?

A: I would say that my biggest goal this offseason is to get back into the shape I was in before my injury. I currently weigh about 180 right now; I lost a lot of muscle in my legs from my injury, and I want to get my weight up to around 185-190.

Q: It was a disappointing end of your high school career after suffering a broken patella in a late September game, are you fully healed?

A: I am not yet fully healed; I recently had another surgery to take the pins and wires out of my knee, but I am well on my way to being stronger than I was before my injury. My doctor, Dave Rubenstein, projects that my knee and legs will be stronger than they were before the injury occurred.

Q: What did the rehab and time off from soccer do for you?

A: The time off from soccer and rehab really regenerated my passion for the game, and want to get back on the field. It has been since September 25th since I have been on the field, and it is about time that I am back out there.

Q: You have seen the rise of Zach Pfeffer as the Union’s first ever homegrown player. If offered the opportunity, would that have been an option that you entertained instead of heading to UPenn? Have you spoken with Zach at all about his experiences with the Union so far?

A: That is a very tough one. My gut reaction is to say yes, but though playing professional soccer is the ultimate goal of mine, I feel that my game is not yet ready for that level. and I still have to mature as not only a player, but also a person. Playing college soccer is very important to me because it will allow me more time to get better on the field, and also off the field. I have spoken with Zach many times about his playing with the Union; Zach is a good friend of mine, and he has only great things to say about the Union and his experiences so far.

ASN Philly spoke with Zach about Max and asked for a little scouting report: “As a goalkeeper, Max is fantastic. He’s very, very quick and agile and he also is very comfortable with the ball. He commands his area very well and is a true leader on the field. He also has a great personality which carries over to his play on the field”

Q: With that said, have you been to many Union games? What did you think of the first season?

A: I have been to quite a few Union games; I thought that the coaches and players did a great job so far, and they will only get better as the seasons come.

Quick Kicks

Courtesy: Mainline Media News

Q: Can you pinpoint a favorite soccer moment for you so far?

A: I have to say that playing against Atletico Madrid in Madrid with the U-15 National Team is my favorite soccer moment. Also, playing alongside Zinedine Zidane in the ESP All-Star Game.

Q: Who is the best player in the world right now at your position?

A: Iker Casillas.

Q: Between you and Zackary Steffen, FC Delco has become sort of a goalkeeper factory these days. What can you say about Steffen and his future potential?

A: The bottom line is ‘Steff’ is a phenomenal goalkeeper. His potential is endless; I have no doubt that he will be one of the best goalkeepers that FC Delco has ever had.

Q: Who are some of the rising stars coming out of FC Delco?

A: Zack Steffen, Colin O’Neill

Q: The best advice you have ever been given…

A: Always believe in yourself.

Thanks for the time Max and good luck with your continued rehab and we wish you nothing but the best during your stay at UPenn. We’ll be checking back in!

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