July 26, 2012
Former Cleveland State men's soccer standout Josh Williams made his first start with the Columbus Crew on April 21. Since that time, he has become an important fixture in the lineup and has helped the squad remain in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Following is a Q&A with Williams.
Q) Since your first start on April 21st vs the Houston Dynamo, you have started all 12 MLS games and have been an important fixture on the back line. How has this experience been so far? Has your approach been different now that you are in the first 11?
A) It has been such an amazing experience. The first years were great, but being able to finally contribute now makes the experience that much better. My approach hasn't changed all that much, however I watch a lot more film than I used to. I continue to do what got me here: out-work everyone.
Q) What does it mean to play an important role for the Columbus Crew (the only MLS team in Ohio) being that you are native of Cleveland, OH?
A) I have always been a supporter of the Crew, so for me to be able to put on a uniform and represent the Crew everyday is a dream come true.
Q) The Crew is still in the playoff hunt, what is the mentality of the team going forward to push for a playoff spot?
A) We understand that every game going forward is a chance to pick up crucial points. We approach every training session and game like it's do-or-die. The Eastern conference is full of very good teams. We have to play well against those teams in order to meet our goal of making the playoffs. The next couple of weeks will be crucial in our playoff push.
Q) Your team recently played vs Stoke City of the English Premier League. Was the level different than playing against MLS teams?
A) The level of play wasn't too different. The major difference was the size of the players. Those guys were beasts! In the MLS, I can physically control a lot of players, but that wasn't the case with the Stoke guys. I had to be a lot more technically and tactically aware because I couldn't rely on just my athleticism.
Q) Now that you can look back on your experience as a student athlete at Cleveland State University, what did you gain from it that has helped you as a young professional?
A) I gained a lot from my experience at CSU. Having to go to class every day and play soccer helped me become much better at managing my time. It definitely helps me in my everyday routine.
Q) What is the biggest difference between NCAA Division I College Soccer and playing in Major League Soccer?
A) There are two major differences. One is the length of the season. The college season is about 4 months long, while the MLS season is about 10 months long. Maintaining a professional approach and taking care of your body is a huge factor. The other difference is the speed of play and the physicality. You realize after the first five minutes of stepping onto the field that you're on a completely different level. You don't have time to think. If you aren't mentally and physically prepared when you step on the field, you will get exploited.
Q) If you could offer any advice to current student athletes at Cleveland State University, what would it be?
A) Set goals and don't let anyone keep you from reaching those goals. When training, I always used the motto, "Find a way or make one."
Men's Soccer Ready for Playoff Run