October 21, 1998
By Christine Nishimoto
Ask Cal junior defender Derrick Dyslin what soccer means to him and he quickly professes "my life." It should be no surprise that this ambitious athlete aims to play professionally in Germany. To become a member of a German team is a prestigious and difficult task with many top-ranked players from around the world striving for exactly the same goal. Yet, Dyslin readily accepts the challenge.
Drawn toward playing soccer abroad in Germany for numerous personal reasons, Dyslin himself is half German and feels a special affinity towards the country he believes has so much to offer him as a player.
"I like their style of play, the coaching and the experience," said Dyslin. "Of course, their fan base brings an amazing atmosphere to all of the games."
According to California head coach Mark Mallon, Dyslin is progressing down the right path.
"He is certainly one of the people that I expect to play soccer at the next level," remarked Mallon. "Derrick must continue refining his game, but he definitely has the ability. It is a very reasonable goal."
Dyslin's dream has been a long time in the making. A glance back into his childhood in the Los Angeles suburb of La Canada reveals a determined five-year old already kicking a soccer ball. He tried playing baseball, basketball, and football but always found himself returning to soccer.
During his years in club soccer, Dyslin had the opportunity to participate in international tournaments in England, France and Mexico. For Dyslin, there was one striking difference between youth soccer in the States and Europe.
"At the age of sixteen, they get a contract and concentrate on playing," said Dyslin. "Here (in the U.S.), we have to go to school. All the hours we put into studying they put into practice."
Dyslin is aware of the serious commitment and planning necessary to secure a spot on a professional soccer team abroad.
"The way it works is you have to know someone overseas and get asked to practice with the team," explained Dyslin. "A lot of people go abroad on their own for a couple of weeks to a month trying to establish the right connections. They travel from club to club in different countries hoping for an invitation. If you get the opportunity to play with the team, and they like what you have to offer, they keep you."
Knowing the right people gives Dyslin an advantage. He was fortunate to play under former Cal assistant coach Lyle Yorks, who played professionally in Scotland, Germany, Denmark and Switzerland. Troy Cowell, also a Cal alum, plays for KVC Westerloo of the Belgium first division.
Dyslin has shown signs of his potential as a professional player during his two seasons at Cal, winning awards that should draw professional scouts attention in both the United States and abroad. Some of his accomplishments include participating in the 1998 Adidas Summer League and being named 1997 All-Far West. Dyslin was also named Cal's team MVP in 1997.
"Derrick is a steady, solid defensive player who we rely on to shut down the opponent's top striker. His excellence in the air helps him win balls. We also use him as an offensive player when we have restart plays," said Mallon proudly adding. "Derrick is an ideal player, a good leader and a great guy overall."
Standing out not just as a starting defender, Dyslin also serves as co-captain of the Bears with goalkeeper Doug Brooks. The two have been leaders during Cal's extremely competitive 1998 schedule. Dyslin's determination and dedication have made him not only an asset to the team but one of the best defenders ever to play at California.
Dyslin transferred to Cal from the University of Richmond where he was an All-Colonial Conference selection.
"I am originally from California, and it was difficult to adjust to a small, conservative school in Virginia," said Dyslin. "I chose Berkeley because it is much more liberal, a very good school and closer to my family."
Although Germany is a greater distance away from home than Virginia, Dylsin is not concerned about how he will deal with the vast differences in culture.
"I am not worried at all," said Dyslin. "That's exactly why I want to go to Germany. It is for the experience. Growing up there was no Major League Soccer in the U.S., so I looked overseas. As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to play abroad."