Los Angles Blues goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski shares his thoughts on this important position. Photo Credit: JanoszPhotos/LA Blues
SoccerNation News Goalkeeper Special Series: Up Close with Los Angeles Blues Goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski
SoccerNation News special player spotlight chose Goalkeepers to highlight for Spring 2013 and this article is part of the Soccer Goalie Series. Woszczynski says, "I think soccer players are the smartest athletes, and soccer is the most fluid sport. You really have to be thinking the entire time on the field. It is definitely the most reactive sport."
Frequently when leagues name their Player of the Week the honor goes to a high-scoring forward, a key midfielder or a defender who played a cruical role in one or more matches and not a goalie; so often the unsung hero of the pitch.
For the fourth week of the season, USL PRO named Los Angeles Blues goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski as the best of the best as he led his team to a 1-0 victory over the tough Orlando City Lions.
Carl Woszczynski's eight saves kept Blues in the game long enough for teammate Cory Miller to net the game winner. In addition, Woszczynski’s work against Phoenix FC Wolves in the opening weekend allowed Blues to notch a 3-1 win.
So far this season Woszczynski has led the Blues to a 3-2 record, including shutouts over Orlando City and Phoenix FC. Woszczynski recently spoke with Diane Scavuzzo as part of SoccerNation News’ series on goalkeepers.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you like best about being a Goalie?
Carl Woszczynski: I love the pressure – as a field player you can make mistakes and even give the ball away and it does not always affect the game too much, but as a goalkeeper your actions are always held accountable.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who are your favorite professional goalies?
Carl Woszczynski: Joe Hart and Edwin van der Sar. Technically van der Sar was so sound, I think he could have continued to play longer.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think a goalie’s or a field players’ career longer?
Carl Woszczynski: A goalkeeper’s career is longer, but you might not get a chance to be a starting goal keeper.
Diane Scavuzzo: Is it harder to be a goalkeeper than a field player?
Carl Woszczynski: The role is more unforgiving. The question is how do you deal with the pressure?
Diane Scavuzzo: How do you deal with the pressure of being a goalkeeper?
Carl Woszczynski: I work on staying focused and calm. My goal keeper coaches talk about keeping a short memory. If you give up a bad goal, you can’t melt down and give up another goal because you are not focused or because you are upset and your reactions are slower – you have to move on to the next challenge and be ready to do your best.
Diane Scavuzzo: How long have you been a goalkeeper?
Carl Woszczynski: Since I was 12 or 13. I just turned 25, so about 11 or 12 years.
Diane Scavuzzo: What made you decide to be one?
Carl Woszczynski: I was always the kid who got in goal before or after team practice. I gravitated to being a goalkeeper naturally. I just took it over and then started playing goalie in ODP in Indiana.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think has changed in youth soccer since you have come up the ranks in the last ten years?
Carl Woszczynski: Well, back then there was no chance to be recruited without ODP. Now ODP is almost nonexistent with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy program for youth soccer players. The change is great for the game, but it has really increased the competition among players and has put more pressure on kids – and at younger ages – than ever before.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you like most about being a goalkeeper?
Carl Woszczynski: I like the pressure and knowing that the team can rely on me. It takes a special person to know they want this type of intense pressure.
As a goal keeper you really have to focus and train at hard to develop. If you are really serious about wanting to be a goalkeeper, youth players should find a good goal keeper coach and work as often as you can with your coach – this is a real benefit.
Diane Scavuzzo: Who is your goalkeeper coach?
Carl Woszczynski: Steve Gonzales. I really like working with him. He played for the MLS' LA Galaxy. He blends the Mexican and American-style goalkeeping talents together. Gonzales really knows his stuff and shares great wisdom. I am fortunate to work with him.
Diane Scavuzzo: How would you describe your team?
Carl Woszczynski: I really like our team, we do not have a lot of big-name veterans but we gel together so well. We are bonded and this shows on the field.
Diane Scavuzzo: How important are your defensive players?
Carl Woszczynski: Extremely important. Every save is a 1v1 challenge. It is up to the team's defense to come in and be there to help you. Without the defense, the goalkeeper is nothing.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the goalkeeper’s role as a communicator? How important is it that the goalkeeper talks to his defense?
Carl Woszczynski: This is critically important.
I have been working on this a lot with LA Blues's Goalie Coach, Steve Gonzales.
Coach Steve didn’t think in the beginning I was as vocal as I should be. From the goalkeeper position, you can see everything; all the actions developing on the field. It is extremely vital for a goalkeeper to have good communication and kind of be a general in the back.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has been your greatest challenge?
Carl Woszczynski: My first big challenge was when I was drafted out of college by the Chicago Fire. Back then, I was amazed at how cut throat it was and that professional players never really took any days off. The pros come out every day – it is their job - and they are ready to give 110%. Players are fighting for their starting positions.
Now that you’re a pro, it is your job to perform for the fans and always give the most you can. I always give my best on the field.
Diane Scavuzzo: What were the biggest personal challenges?
Carl Woszczynski: I majored in mechanical engineering, which took up a ton a time. I had to balance my time for soccer and get good grades.
Sticking with soccer and not giving up was also a challenge. There are a lot of good college players but they quit after their first cut and give up their dreams of being a professional.
Right out of college, I would have made more money as an engineer, but this is a great starting place as a goalkeeper and I hope to be in the MLS one day.
I am young and don’t have a family to support, so it was a no-brainer to follow my dreams and pursue playing soccer.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you have any final thoughts on being a goalkeeper?
Carl Woszczynski: I think soccer players are the smartest athletes, and soccer is the most fluid sport. You really have to be thinking the entire time on the field. It is definitely the most reactive sport.
Background: Carl Woszczynski was as a four-year starter at Columbus North High School in Columbus, IN, where he earned 42 clean sheets in 80 starts and was a three-time All-State selection. He also backstopped with Fort Wayne Fever and helped his side to the Indiana State Cup Championship in 2007. Woszczynski was a seven-time member of the Indiana State ODP Team, a two-time captain and a two-time selection to the Region II pool.
Woszczynski spent his college career at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he set the university’s top single-season goals-against-average. He was an eight-time Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week, the most ever from UAB, and a three-time All Conference USA honoree. While at UAB Woszczynski also played with the USL PDL, spending two years with the Indiana Invaders and two with the Atlanta Blackhawks.
In 2012 he was chosen as the 53rd overall selection in the MLS Supplemental Draft by the Chicago Fire, then moved to the Columbus Crew for a period of time to fill in for an injured goalkeeper. Woszczynski signed with the LA Blues for the remainder of the 2012 USL PRO season, debuting with a 2-0 win over Antigua Barracuda FC
Related Articles: Carl Woszczynski Earns Player of the Week, San Diego Surf's Goalie Coach Joe Panian on the Beauty and Brutality of Being a Goalie; Soccer Goalie Special: Vancouver Whitecaps' Marius Røvde