Former youth national team standout Jamie Watson has earned a reputation for his hustling play and talkative nature. The bubbly forward writes a rookie journal for Real Salt Lake’s team website and he is beginning to provide a spark off the bench for John Ellinger’s squad on the field. His assists and opportunistic moves in a recent friendly against Chilean power Universidad Católica, made the difference as Real scored two second-half goals after he subbed into the game.
Soccer365's Andrea Canales spoke to the young player to get a perspective on his Real world.
How does the team feel about bringing a new soccer experience to the fans in Salt Lake??
We want to go out and do well. Everyone in Salt Lake has been great. We definitely want to do it as much for ourselves as for them.
You’ve played in mostly reserve league games, which is new for MLS this year. What do you think of the reserve teams?
Having gotten the opportunity to prove themselves week in and week out, players can now benefit from games. With this, the league has taken the right step to be like all the other leagues in the rest of the world, where the development is just as much as the result. Obviously, results are what matter most, win, or loss, isn’t necessarily everything, in this business, but also, you want your younger players, who are going to be getting the results for you in the years to come, you want them developing in the right way – taking the right steps. The reserve league is a great thing that the league’s done for us younger players. I’m really excited about it. I know all the other guys, developmental players, and other guys who can use this, as far as the veteran players like when you come back from injuries, or if they didn’t get in the game the day before. It’s obviously all beneficial and there’s nothing harmful about it.
Do you think you’re ready for first team action for Real?
Definitely. From a personal standpoint, I think that I’ve been ready, but you’ve got to look at the guys that I have in front of me. Jason Kries – I don’t need to tell you about him, all you have to do is say the name and everybody knows he’s a goalscorer. Clint Mathis as well. These guys, they earn their keep. If I just get some experience behind them and learn from them, that’s going to leave me better off. Playing in reserve games too is going to help me out, playing against quality defenders, good defenders and just getting the experience behind me. If coach calls me up Saturday and says,” Jamie, are you ready to go?”, 100 percent yes, but it’s also, if he wants me to play in a reserve game and feels that’s where my best minutes are, then you know, I’ll be ready for that too, 100 percent.
What would you say is the personality of the Real Salt Lake team?
It’s funny, because we were all thrown together about three months ago, but you can tell from just the way the guys interact, on and off the field, that well, technically we are an expansion team, but I don’t think anyone in this organization things, with the way we play and the way things are run around here, day to day, nothing about that says expansion team. We’ve got a good group of people here, on the field, the coaching staff, the front office workers. We’re far from an expansion team, to be honest with you.
Was it easy to make the transition to the pro game with Ellinger, since he had previously been your youth national team coach?
Of course. A lot of people don’t really know this, but Coach Ellinger was really the person who last year I turned to for advice on whether I should stay in college another year or to leave early. Through talking to him, I took his advice. He told me at the time, it was probably the best time for me to go. Of course, him not knowing that he would have a coaching position and the opportunity to take me in the draft. It just goes to show how much I value his opinion and now being here, it’s the best situation for me personally. I feel that I wouldn’t want to be with any other team in the league. I’m happy here, on and off the field. I’ve done well in the preseason partly because I’m happy and I’m liking the situation I’m in.
Watching you with the reserves, I’d say a trait of the team was hustle – from your perspective on the field, what do you notice as team hallmarks?
I think that the good thing about being in the reserve matches is that you get 11 guys on the field giving it their all, and I can give you the cliché that they’re giving it 110 percent.
And it would sound so cheesy, but it’s true because everyone has something to play for. We’re all on this team, being on the starting 11, only 16 on the travel rosters and everything like that and one thing I think the reserve team does well is I think we really push ourselves to do well. We don’t give up and we may not be as experienced or as skillful, but there’s no team, first team or reserve team, that’s going to try harder than us, just because we have all us guys have the desire to be doing well, for the team and for ourselves to be pushing for the first team.
What do you think of your home crowd? They’ve been pretty supportive
Yeah, I know. Everybody from the front office has done an incredible job promoting it and the fans have taken us and shown us by their reception to us that they’re excited about us being here. When we go out and we have 30,000 fans cheering for us at the top of their lungs, how can we not be motivated by that?
How about Rice-Eccles as a stadium? It’s a little big for soccer, and you’ve got to play on an artificial surface.
I guess from an American standpoint, it’s really big for a soccer stadium, but you look anywhere else around the world - there’s stadiums that are 100,000 plus. I love playing at Rice-Eccles, there’s a certain feeling about it. It’s kind of become a like a new home for us – we’ve been practicing there, getting used to it. I really like the Field Turf situation. Some guys are a little skeptical about it, but me personally, I really like it just because I played a couple of years of high school on it and I really like on that Field turf stuff.
But there are plans on the table to get the team their own stadium – have you been following that? Is it going to happen?
Hopefully, we’ll keep our fingers crossed. I think it’ll happen. The state of Utah has really shown us their support in backing us and giving us their 100 support in everything. I think that it hopefully that it will happen in the next couple of years. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and if we do well and get even more support than we have now, things are looking good for us to get our own stadium
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