Exclusive Interview with Matt Kassel
I recently had the opportunity to catch-up with for New York Red Bulls player Matt Kassel. Matt has had an interesting year thus far. He was released by the Red Bulls, picked up by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in USLPRO, named to the USLPRO All League-Second Team, and now is training with the Philadelphia Union back in MLS. He’s a very talented young player, who has already achieved quite a lot in the game, having won the NCAA Division 1 Championship while playing at the University of Maryland. Matt also received several call-ups to play with the US National Team at various youth team levels.
SLI: What was your mindset when you joined Pittsburgh after things didn't work out with the Red Bulls?
MK: It was important for me to come in with the right attitude and mindset. I knew that this was a chance for me to get better and progress my game every day. It was important for me to be professional and try and make the players around me better.
Obviously getting released by a club is never an ideal situation but that’s part of the business that I signed up for. I don't think the Red Bulls handled it in a professional manner but that’s over with and I'm looking forward to what’s next in my career. It was important for me to get games, stay fit, stay sharp and Pittsburgh was a great place for me to do that. I had a good year there and now I'm excited for my next opportunity.
SLI: What were some of the best experiences that you had during your time with the Red Bulls?
MK: Making my professional debut out in Vancouver was pretty special for me and then going out and playing in the Emirates Cup was a cool experience as well.
SLI: How does the USL PRO League compare to playing in MLS?
MK: The main difference I'd say is the facilities and the scheduling of games. In the USL they sometimes schedule games back to back days which i don't understand because it’s basically physically impossible to play two 90 minute games back to back at your highest ability. And with the facilities that the MLS has you can't really even compare it to the USL.
SLI: What were some of the memorable moments for you during your time playing at the University of Maryland?
MK: Winning a National Championship my freshmen year at Maryland has to be the most memorable experience for me. It was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget the rest of my life.
SLI: What are the next steps for you and where would you like to continue your playing career?
MK: Well right now i am currently down in Philadelphia training with the Union. The coaches and players here are real good guys and I've been enjoying training here so if something works out I would gladly accept playing here but at the same time I'm keeping all my options open.
SLI: With the New York Cosmos fielding a team next season, is playing for them something that you'd consider if you're offered the opportunity?
MK: I would for sure consider playing for the Cosmos as I feel they are gonna have a great setup and a lot of players would want to play there.
SLI: What are your thoughts on the new schedule that the NASL is planning for next season?
MK: I think the new schedule for the NASL is going to be good for the players and the league. Having a little break mid-season is healthy for the players so they can stay fresh which will only help make the competition better.