Friday, May 20, 2011

One on One with Zack Schilawski, New England Revolution

Zack Schilawski

Drafted 9th overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, Zack Schilawski found himself doing something most kids dream about: being paid to play the game of soccer.  It was with the New England Revolution who gave the Cary, NC native a new home in Boston.

In the early part of his career, Zack was scoring goals for Wake Forest University. It was there that he scored 40 goals and notched 20 assists, in 99 games. Certainly posting some serious numbers for a striker…  Schilawski also played for the Cary Clarets/Carolina Railhawks U23 where he gained insight into the professional game.

I asked Zack what it was about North Carolina that seems to produce so many professional soccer players. Examples like Daniel Paladini (Chi), Darrius Barnes(NE), Tyler Lassiter(NY), Tommy Heinemann(CLB) and Clyde Simms (DC) all come to mind. Schilawski offered this as a possibility: “Some big time facilities over at Wake Med (Cary, NC) and Bryan Park out in Greensboro (NC).  CASL, who I grew up playing with, has a lot of good coaches in and around the area for youth soccer.” CASL is the Capital Area Soccer League, a league with many ties to professional players. CASL also has a partnership with Chelsea FC of the English Premier League.

He also attributed that success to the close proximity of high level ACC soccer. “There’s a lot of big time college programs there. From Wake Forest University… UNC, Duke and NC State.  A lot of good players have come through there. Growing up and having the opportunity to see those big time college games right in your back yard is big time.”

Now into his second year as a professional, Zack finds himself in a battle for playing time. The Revolution have had a mixed bag of results over the past few years and management is actively looking to bring in reinforcements to shore up the team.  “No one’s spot is ever secure. You’ve always got to fight and earn your time on the field, that’s the harsh reality of it.” With the team bringing in players like Benny Feilhaber, I asked how Zack felt about that. His answer was that of a player wise beyond his years: “The more good players you have around, the more competition there is in training; it’s only going to positive things for the team.”

That said, Schilawski is still in the ideal place for a young player: under Revolution head coach Steve Nicol.

Nicol’s reputation as a quality coach for honing young talent is nearly unblemished. Schilawski certainly seems to think so.  “An incredible player, a legend. It’s definitely humbling to be able to pick his brain on a daily basis. Obviously he’s had an extremely successful personal career here in MLS, so it makes it easy to trust him."

A bright future ahead. 
It’s easy to see how much Zack appreciates his accomplishments thus far. I asked him what the highlight of his early career was and he had this to say: “The hat-trick [vs the LA Galaxy] obviously is the big one that stands out. It’s kinda one of those things that no matter where my career goes, I’ll always be able to say that I scored a hat trick in an MLS soccer game.”  

Perhaps the battle for playing time is hard on Schilawski right now. Still, after talking to him there is no doubt in my mind he will find his place on the list of starters. For a young player, he certainly seems to understand the burdens of the professional game and continues to work hard and earn his spot. Here's another one to keep an eye on folks. 

Other N.C. Player Articles:

Tyler Lassiter, New York Red Bull

One on One with Daniel Paladini, Chicago Fire


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