In his first season with the Oklahoma City Energy FC, midfielder Juan Pablo Guzman appeared in 23 matches for the club along with finding the back of the net twice. More than just scoring goals Guzman was a major part to the success and run of the club’s second Western Conference Final appearance in the last three seasons. After turning pro in 2010, Guzman has played over 100 matches for three different USL sides [Charlotte, Louisville City, and Oklahoma City] even in addition a short stint in Colombia with Patriotas.
I briefly sat down with the newly named team captain and got his thoughts on last season, what being named captain for means to him, and favorite match attended as a fan.
Thank you Juan Pablo for taking time to talk. You have been around the USL, very familiar with the league, talk about your first season with the Energy FC.
“Last season, I felt immediately welcomed and valued by the coaching staff, front office, and ownership. I thought the season started slow due to a lot of new guys getting used to each other but we ended well, a penalty short of going to the USL Championship.”
Continuing on your first season in OKC, do you feel any momentum from the team’s deep run last season carrying over into the early stages of this season?
“Yes, even though last season ended quite abruptly, the momentum from last year’s success along with addition of a new coaching staff and players, I can feel the momentum in these first couple weeks of the preseason.”
You were recently named team captain at the club’s recent season seat holder “Meet and Greet” event, talk about what this honor means to you.
“It is a really big honor for me. I am really thankful for the coaches’ trust. I feel the responsibility to be a good teammate, to serve my teammates, and be the best leader I can be on and off the field. I strive to maintain a culture of excellence and feel honored to captain our team.”
In 2016, in-between your time with Louisville City and joining the Energy FC, you had the opportunity to play one year in Colombia. Talk about your short time down in South America and what it was like compared to soccer here in the United States.
“It was a huge learning experience playing down in South America. The speed of play is really high and you get a feel that the players’ lives depend on their play. Many players come from nothing and put their whole life into playing soccer and most of the time, their only way out. These situations weigh a lot; not only in matches but you feel the pressure in training. Overall it was great experience not only as player but a person too.”
Lets step aside briefly from you as player but instead as a fan, are there any specific match[es] that you have attended either recently or as a child that you will never forget?
“Yes, recently this offseason I went over to England to a match at Stamford Bridge. I had the opportunity to watch Chelsea play Southampton. It was my first European match in person and was a thrill to be there. Also, back in 2001 when I was younger and living in Mexico, I had the opportunity to attend the Copa Libertadores Final between Boca Juniors [Argentina] and Cruz Azul [Mexico]. Walking into the Estadio Azteca felt like a beehive. I will never forget that match.”
Finally, if you could play with any past or present soccer player, who would it be?
“I would have to go with former Barcelona midfielder and legend, Xavi Hernandez”
Juan Pablo and the Energy FC are currently in Arizona, taking part in their final preseason preparations before the start of the 2018 season.
Don’t forget that the club starts their 2018 campaign at home on March 17 as OKC host the Tulsa Roughnecks at Taft Stadium. Call 235-KICK (5425) to get your tickets today