RJ Allen Interview

RJ Allen Interview

With a whopping 6 assists from defence, in the 2016 season, RJ Allen established himself as a first choice defender in Patrick Vieira’s New York City side. The 26 year old joined the MLS team in 2015 and we’re pleased to announce that he’s now joined the Concave family! RJ will be wearing the brand new AURA+ and we got the opportunity to sit down with the man himself, whilst he was over in Manchester...

So, RJ… What brings you to Manchester?

A couple of guys got together for some training before pre-season starts. It’s a great opportunity for us to get together and train. Obviously there’s a couple of new guys that are coming in and it’s good to have that continuity going into a new season and when you have a sister club like Manchester City and you get an opportunity to use their top class facilities, it’s a blessing!

How good are the facilities over at the City Football Academy?

From what I understand and what I see, I think Manchester City have one of the nicest facilities in the world so whenever you get a chance to have an opportunity to train there and use their facilities it’s something I love to take advantage of.

Do you have any aspirations to come and play over in England?

If a good opportunity came about I’d definitely take advantage of it! Obviously the EPL is one of, if not, the best league in the world and it would be a dream to take part in that. It’s a huge aspiration of mine and one that I’d love to do and accomplish in my career.

What’s the perception of football, or soccer, as you guys call it over in America?

I think soccer in America is growing very fast and it’s being played at a very high level right now. As far as the growth of it, it’s incredible. There’s a lot of Europeans coming over to play in America and they see the growth of the league and have nothing but great things to say about it. It’s a league, that for me, is a huge stepping stone and it’s something that I really enjoy.

How did you get into the soccer then?

I grew up playing for a small youth club in Match Fit Academy, before going to high school. I went to high school and graduated there, then onto college where I graduated in three and a half years, which is a year early. After that I was drafted into a team in LA, called Chivas USA. Then I went on and played in Denmark and now I’ve been with New York City for 2 years so I’ve kind of been in a couple of different teams but overall it’s been a great experience and one I’ve cherished every moment of. Growing up though it was primarily soccer for me, as opposed to any other sports. I played a little bit of hockey but at the age of 12 years old I had to pick one sport and I wanted to focus on soccer. It was always a dream of mine, as a young boy, to become a professional soccer player and pursue that as a career.

How would you say your surroundings affected you growing up?

I grew up in a small city in Old Bridge, New Jersey. My parents did a really good job and put me in good environments. I always looked to surround myself with athlete friends throughout my youth career and I was always the kid who had a soccer ball at my feet. I just loved the game and had so much passion for it.

Is there anything different in the MLS that the average EPL fan wouldn’t know about?

Yeah, there’s a few things that are different in the MLS compared to European soccer. One being that they’re a couple of artificial pitches in our league. As far as the difference in the MLS, I’d say the travel has to be one of the most difficult things... I’m someone that looks to better prepare and do more off the field leading up to games, especially after a long travel day. It’s definitely one of the most difficult things to deal with, heading into a game, especially if you have three games in a week, it will definitely take its toll on you. You hear a few of the European players, who come over to play in our league and it’s something they struggle with.

How do you cope with travel then and what forms of transport do you use?

Every game varies, especially in the eastern conference. There’s a few teams that are close. DC United you can do a couple of different routes like take a quick flight or jump on a bus like we did last year. Also you got New England who’re fairly close… Couple hour bus ride! A couple cities are further so you have to jump on a plane, then you have the west coast trips. You play the west coast teams once a year, some of them at home, some away and then the following year it swaps around so you rotate it.

What’s it like working with players like Pirlo, Lamps and David Villa?

I think whenever you have the chance to work with those three guys it’s an amazing opportunity and it’s one that I try to take most advantage of. Obviously these guys have won almost every trophy there is to win. Amongst all three of them you try to take in as much as you can whilst they're around and honestly all three of them are world class. Great people to work with and fantastic to be around, both on and off the field. All three of them are some of the hardest working players you’ll ever see.

What’s your strongest attribute?

I think I’m someone who likes to attack out at late spots on the field. I play right or left full back and I’m someone that likes to get down the line and serve balls and be an X factor in scoring goals. I like to get forward but I also take pride in defending and scoring a zero. I’m very energetic and like to get forward and be a part of the game, with the ball. I like to be on the ball and start attacks.

Have you always been a fullback?

Growing up I actually played as a forward and also a central midfielder. When I got to college I switched to fullback as that’s where a lot of coaches saw me playing at the next level. I went on and played full back throughout my college career and that’s where I am now so it’s probably the greatest move I made in my life.

How do you deal with the heat during the summer?

The heat index last year got up as high as 105 degrees, against the Red Bulls, in the middle of July or August, I think it was. It was a crazy game, scorching hot and it’s something you really need to prepare well for in the summer months. If you don’t you’re definitely going to pay the price and it’s important to take care of your body and be a good professional.

First thoughts on Concave?

I really liked the brand and I really like the fit of the boots and the AURA+ is definitely a boot I can see myself wearing throughout the rest of my career.

What made you want to try something different?

I’m not someone to follow the rest of the crowd. I like to be different. With Concave you definitely get a different quality. It’s very different to the likes of a Nike and adidas and it’s one that moving forward I’ll take a lot of pride in. I know it’s something I’ll really enjoy and I’ll rep to the best of my ability.

What do you get up to outside of soccer?

During the season I’m someone that likes to relax and take it easy. Go to nice dinners with my lady. Off season I’m someone that really wants to travel. I want to see the world and see what’s out there, learning different cultures along my way. I’m really looking forward to going to Italy in the next off season and like I said, I just want to learn different cultures and travel the world.

Targets?

My short term goals for this upcoming season, are to be a consistent starter again for NYCFC and to be an MLS all star. I think I just missed the all star team this past season. Moving forward the World Cup is coming up and I think I’m someone that just missed or some people say I got snubbed from the US Men’s National Team picture so I’m hoping to get into that and be more involved with that throughout this upcoming season and this year. I think I’m someone that can compete for the left or right back spot for the nation. It’d be an absolute honour to represent my country at any stage let alone the World Cup.

Long term goals?

I’d love to sign for a club in Europe if that opportunity ever came about. Whether that was in Italy, England, wherever, I’m someone that really enjoyed my time in Denmark and I loved studying the culture and I’ll take that with me for the rest of my life. I’m open to anything throughout the rest of my career and I would love to study abroad and sign a contract abroad. It’d be an absolute honour.

Got any advice for any up and coming ballers?

Be the hardest working guy out there and always take words of wisdom from the people around you. Always be someone that’s learning because there’s always something to learn throughout your football career, whether you’re 30 something or 18 years old. You always need to have that open mind and be willing to learn because the games developing everyday and things change and you need to keep learning!

Writen by Concave @ 24/01/2017 04:07

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