Entrance Exam: Chivas USA's Zarek Valentin

NCAA champion is settling in thanks to teammates and fans

Zarek Valentin of Chivas USA

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Chivas USA Communications

Zarek Valentin is next on MLSsoccer.com’s list of promising rookies to submit to our 5 questions. The defender, who won a NCAA championship at Akron last autumn, has played both right back and in central defense for Chivas USA this preseason.

MLSsoccer.com Question 1: What’s been the most unexpected difference between MLS and college so far?

Valentin: I would say the most unexpected difference would be the amount of thinking that is involved in the game. You know, I thought I was a player that thought a lot in college, but it’s not nearly comparable to what you have to do in the pros. It’s a good transition, but it’s by far the most different for me.

MLSsoccer.com Question 2: Which veterans have provided the most guidance, and in what way?

Valentin: I would say at this point, Jimmy Conrad. He’s been one of the best assets they’ve been able to have for me, playing right next to him on the field. He’s been able to talk to me, point out anything that’s happening on the field, whether it’s defending, whether it’s attacking or just possession. You know we’re just watching the game and he sees stuff that I didn’t even know to look for.

MLSsoccer.com Question 3: It’s the MLS Cup final, it’s tied and it’s heading to penalties. Do you want to be one of the five penalty-takers?

Valentin: [Laughs.] Did you say this to everyone, or did you just do this to me?

MLSsoccer.com: Come on, I want to hear it. What’s your answer?

Valentin: Is this when like the coach comes and asks me, or do I step up? I think, you know, I feel confident in my ability. You know I’ve taken them in big games before, and I think I can accept that responsibility. So I think at this point, I would just step up and you know, try to take one.

MLSsoccer.com Question 4: Now you’re a defender so you won’t be scoring a lot of goals, but if you get one do you have a goal celebration planned out, or will you go spontaneous?

Valetin: I’m more of a spontaneous guy. I do not have anything picked out. I’m just not the type to even score a goal. So, you know, I would spontaneously combust if I ever scored one in college, so I can’t even imagine what would happen if I scored a goal at the professional level.

MLSsoccer.com: So you’d pretty much just run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Valentin: Oh, I’m gonna lose my head. My shirt might come off, and then ... You know honestly, I’ll probably just run into the corner flag area and fall down. High school soccer celebrations might take over, but it’s not easy to predict what might happen.

MLSsoccer.com: Now I’m really hoping you score one.

Valentin: [Laughs.] Oh man, I would lose my brain. You have no clue.

MLSsoccer.com Question 5: Is there anything you’d like to say to the hardcore fans of Chivas USA?

Valentin: For now, the support has just been amazing, and it’s been amazing getting to know all these fans. With Twitter, talking about games and stuff every day with people who really love us, it’s just been amazing and I can’t thank them enough.