How much do teammates think alike?

Putting the men’s soccer team to the test

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photo of the men’s soccer team in the middle of a huddle.
PHOTO: Paul Yates / SFU Athletics

By: Kaja Antic, Sports Writer

Editor’s note: some answers have been edited for clarity. 

Between travelling, training, and playing together, teammates spend a lot of time with one another — but do they think alike? The Peak asked midfielder Justus Meier, forward Devin O’Hea, and goalkeepers Jordan Thorsen and Eitan Waisfeld, to see just how in sync the players are about their choices on and off the pitch. 

Any specific pre-game routines or superstitions?

Justus Meier (JM): I’ve been wearing shin guards with a picture of my siblings on them for two years. They give me a feeling of extra energy and I couldn’t imagine playing with any other shin guards.

Devin O’Hea (DO): One thing I must have before my games is my shin pad sleeves and a certain pair of shin pads. 

We’ve got a match! While shin pads seem to be the common denominator for the forwards,  goalkeeper Thorsen is a believer in routine rather than superstition. 

Jordan Thorsen (JT): I always make sure to touch the crossbar before the game kicks off but that’s about it. I am fully aware it does absolutely nothing for my performance, but it’s nice to have a pre-game routine.

And Waisfeld likes his version of an “energy” drink — tea.

Eitan Waisfeld (EW): I think routines are actually really important for game days. I personally drink yerba mate before a game. It’s tea; I drink it almost every day anyway. But I always drink it before a game.

Who was your favourite player/club growing up?

JM: My favourite club growing up was definitely Borussia Dortmund and my favourite player was Marco Reus

DO: Growing up, I was a Chelsea fan because my favourite player was Didier Drogba. He played the same position as me, and is someone I try to mimic my play to. 

JT: Peter Schmeichel was my favourite player growing up. I really admired his confidence and leadership, but he was an amazing goalkeeper in general.

Unlike Thorsen, Waisfeld’s favourite player growing up wasn’t a goalkeeper, but a fellow Argentinian. 

EW: My favourite player is Lionel Messi. I actually have a tattoo of Messi. I was raised in Argentina, so I grew up loving him. He kind of got me into the sport, and I always supported him. I support a team in Argentina — Belgrano. It’s local to where my family is and I grew up only a kilometre away from the stadium.

Do you prefer playing on turf or real grass?

JM: Definitely real grass. My joints don’t hurt as much and it’s easier to do a good slide tackle.

DO: Definitely grass because it has more give and my body isn’t as sore after playing on grass compared to turf. 

JT: I would rather play on bad turf than bad grass, but I would rather play on good grass than good turf, so it really depends.

EW: I personally prefer grass because good grass is better than anything else. It’s so much easier to play on. You don’t get turf burn. The ball moves quicker — it’s better that way. I would say that good grass is better than good turf, but bad turf is better than bad grass. 

We’ve heard straight from the source: grass is, in fact, better than turf. 

Who is better: Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?

JM: I would say Messi. He can decide a game on his own without the help of others. I think Ronaldo needs more support from his teammates than Messi does.

DO: 100% Messi, all day. Because he has more Ballon d’Ors (for player of the year), and he makes everyone around him better. I also like his style of play, his awareness on the field, and that he isn’t the flashiest of players. 

JT: For me, it’s Messi, but there’s room for both!

While Thorsen’s up for debate on the topic, Waisfeld is more set on his answer. 

EW: Messi. 

What hundred-to-one chance is better: scoring off a corner kick, or scoring from your side of the pitch?

JM: Corner kick. It’s closer to the goal and the probability is, therefore, higher. 

DO: Personally, I would say scoring off a corner kick. You have more defenders and teammates in your box, so it’s harder to score directly from the corner flag without anyone touching it.

JT: Scoring from beyond half is definitely more appealing, but scoring a goal from a corner is way more likely. 

EW: I would say scoring from your own side of the pitch. I think to score from a corner, you rely on the keeper messing up in some wayeven if your shot is really good. But if you score from your own half, then that takes creativity because you have to be able to see that the keeper is off their line to score. 

What I’m really hearing is that no one can bend it like Beckham

Do you prefer to play during the daytime or nighttime?

JM: In games where we are the favourite, I definitely prefer to play during the day. From my own feelings and experience, games are more likely to end in a fight when it’s dark than when it’s nice and bright. So darkness can make it more difficult to win games. However, if we’re not the favourite, I would rather play in the evening/nighttime.

DO: I like having daytime games because I’m an early riser, so I like starting my day early and not waiting around to play a game at night.

JT: Daytime. It’s always nice to have earlier games so you’re not nervously anticipating them all day. Also, floodlights can make it tough to see balls in the air, which can complicate things as a goalkeeper.

EW: I like the nighttime more. I really like building up to the game and having the day to prepare. I also feel like if you have it during the day, you kind of lose the rest of your day because you’re just going to be so tired from the game. I like having a full day that ends with a game. Also, it’s cooler at night. Obviously, I grew up in the heat, so playing under the sun always kind of killed me. But here, it’s not as much of an issue, but I definitely still prefer nighttime overall.

Mixed feelings — both among the players and Meier’s insight.

What kind of music do you listen to before games?

JM: Viva La Vida” by Coldplay.

DO: I have a wide range of music that I listen to, but the main genre I listen to is rap and the artist is Drake. 

JT: I typically listen to music I enjoy. For me, that means country music, which is an unpopular choice among my teammates.

EW: I almost exclusively listen to Spanish music, so I really like Myke Towers, Fey, and Rels B. But for the team in general, we all like to play Fred Again in the locker room. 

0/4 on this question, if you don’t count the team’s universal disdain for Thorsen’s country music. 

Are there non-soccer athletes you look up to?

JM: I find Dirk Nowitzki a very exciting athlete who, despite his outstanding achievements, has never lost his modesty and honesty.

DO: LeBron James. I would say for what he does on and off the court, how he holds himself as a leader, and how he makes other people around him better. 

JT: Kirk Cousins. I think he is a great leader, a great person, and is super underrated. It’s hard to find someone that doesn’t like Kirk.

EW: Kobe Bryant. He was exceptional in his dedication and commitment to the sport. It’s definitely something that has inspired me sometimes when I’m just like, “Hey, he would do this. He would wake up hours before everybody so he could go train. I should do that as well.”

Thorsen goes outside of the box, picking the only non-NBA player as his favourite athlete.

Do you prefer using your right or left foot on the ball? What about the inside or outside of your foot on the ball?

JM: I definitely prefer my right foot.

DO: I prefer using my right foot cause I am more comfortable with it and it’s my more dominant foot. Also, I like using the inside of my foot more because it feels the most comfortable. 

JT: My left foot sucks so definitely my right! There’s a time and a place for using both sides of my foot. I play the vast majority of passes with the inside of my foot, but hitting a perfect pass with the outside of my foot is more satisfying.

EW: I prefer using my right foot and I prefer using the inside of my foot, so I have more control over the ball than trying to use the outside of my foot.

Right and inside wins it clean. 

Which do you prefer: deflecting a shot with a header or deflecting with your legs?

JM: The best way is with your legs. This hurts the least.

DO: I would say legs because it hurts less.

JT: As a goalkeeper, I usually try to make saves without having to employ my wonderfully handsome face, so I’d say kick saves are more satisfying and definitely less painful.

EW: I think for my own sanity, I would say with my feet, legs, or anything. Kind of hurts when it hits you in the head. 

Once again, the forward and goalkeeper energy is very palpable in these answers. 

Would you rather play a game in the rain or snow?

JM: Rain. It’s easier to play in the rain and the ball does not stop as it rolls.

DO: Definitely the rain. It’s very hard to play in the snow. 

JT: Definitely the rain. Sliding around on a wet surface as a goalkeeper is a ton of fun and snow would be way too cold for a player that doesn’t do a ton of running throughout the match.

EW: Rain. Can’t do the snow. I’m not good with it because I was raised in Argentina, but I moved to Miami when I was nine. I lived in Miami for 10 years, so I basically grew up playing footy there and we never really got snow. I’m more used to playing in the rain.

One of the few times rain is considered a luxury in Vancouver. 

Do you prefer to practice inside or outside?

JM: Outside. Soccer is played outside. That’s how it should be. 

DO: Outside for sure. Playing indoors doesn’t give you the same feeling as playing on an outdoor pitch.

JT: Really depends. If the weather is relatively mild then outside always. If it’s cold and pouring, then I’d happily take the session inside.

EW:  I would say outside. I just grew up playing outside and never really played indoors growing up, so not really as used to it. I think football is an outdoor game, so I definitely prefer playing outside.

Certainly some strong outdoor feelings, some stronger than others.

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