Aug. 11, 2010
CalBears.com sat down with Cal men's soccer senior midfielder Servando Carrasco to discuss his background in the game, the Golden Bears' upcoming season and his future plans. The San Diego product has garnered two straight All-Pac-10 second-team selections. He earned a Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention in 2009 and Pac-10 All-Academic second-team honors in 2008. Carrasco has compiled six goals, 10 assists and 22 points through 53 games, including 50 starts, at Cal.
CalBears.com: What's your ethnic background?
Servando Carrasco: I am Mexican and Spanish, originally from Tijuana. I lived there for most of my life, although I went to school in San Diego.
CalBears.com: How did you start playing soccer?
SC: I was very energetic as a child, so my mom would just find ways to get rid of all that energy. She put me in a lot of different types of sports - tennis, soccer, a little bit of football - and I was drawn in by soccer at like 5 years old.
CalBears.com: How did you choose soccer?
SC: I don't know if I made the decision. I was obviously very young, so I think my mom just made the decision that I was just going to stick to soccer. And I'm glad she did because I love the sport now. It worked out for the best.
CalBears.com: You trained at an acclaimed soccer training center, CEFAR (Centro Entrenamiento Futbol Alto Rendimiento) in Argentina in 2006. Can you talk about your experience there and how it impacted your game?
CalBears.com: You and A.J. Soares are both team captains, along with Hector Jimenez, but your friendship with A.J. started years before that. How long have you known each other?
SC: When I was 17, I decided to go to Argentina because I took a semester off right after high school after I graduated. So I decided to go for five months to train in Argentina, which was a great experience. I learned so much there. They had the best facilities and the best coaches down there. It just shaped the player that I am today.
We've played on the same team ever since we were under nine, so I've known him for almost 13 years now.
CalBears.com: Since you guys have been friends for so long, it must make it enjoyable and beneficial for the team you two to be team captains and long-time best friends.
SC: Absolutely. I can tell you I have never met a more generous and caring family than A.J.'s. They have played such a big role in my life, and I could talk about them for the entire day. His mom has been like a second mom to me; his father has been like a father to me. I can talk about them, like I said, for forever. I am very blessed to have them in my life.
I have to mention that, with my own grandfather and mother, if it wasn't for their love and dedication, I wouldn't be here today. I owe them everything. Words could never describe how much I love them.
For A.J. and I, this year is the end of the road for college, and we're going to give it everything we have, whether it be on the field or off the field. We talk about this every single day. It would be a dream come true to make it to the finals and be together and lift the winning cup at the end of the day.
CalBears.com: What do you think it would be like if you both ended up playing professionally on rival teams?
SC: We're probably the most competitive people you'll ever know, A.J. and I, so friendship aside, during the game, we would go at it. There's no doubt in my mind. He's probably the best player I've ever played next to, and I know he's going to do amazing at the next level. I definitely see it happening because he wants to play for the U.S. and I want to play for Mexico, so we'll see.
CalBears.com: What are your personal goals for the season and what are the team goals for the season?
SC: They go hand in hand. The goal for this year is to win the national championship. There's no doubt in my mind. I feel like the personnel we have this year is extremely talented, but beyond that, with our willingness to compete day-in and day-out, this will be the year for us.
I'm not worried about my individual goals for the season; I'm just worried about the team right now. And the team goal is to win a national championship, and that's all we're focusing on. I'm not focused on being an All-American or anything like that, because you just get caught up in all of that. I just want to be a good leader for the guys and do my part and hopefully influence the collective group.
CalBears.com: How do you manage the challenges of being a student-athlete?
SC: One of the great things about Cal is that you have student advisers and tutors who keep up with you and your work. I've been working with Sherman Boyson (a social welfare undergraduate advisor) and Courtney Dolder (an athletic study center advisor), and throughout the years, they've made the transition from high school to college and just the workload so much easier. So much of the credit goes to them. Yeah, during the season we travel a lot, but we still keep up with our work during the week, so on that weekend we just focus on the games.
CalBears.com: When will you graduate?
SC: I actually walked in the spring, and I still have three courses that I have to finish and then I'm done after the fall.
CalBears.com: What are your pro aspirations?
SC: I definitely want to play professional soccer, whether it is in Mexico, the U.S. or even in Europe. I definitely want to play.
CalBears.com: After you finish playing soccer, say you've already had a professional career, what do you envision yourself doing?
SC: I would love to work for FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the world governing body of soccer). I'm an interdisciplinary studies field major, so I've been revolving my area of concentration around that goal, which is in international economics and globalization. I feel like I've been blessed with three different cultures - Spanish, Mexican, and the U.S - so if I were to live in Europe, I would be able to make that transition very easily. And I would love to work with FIFA, whether it be abroad or in the U.S.
CalBears.com: What is your favorite pro team?
SC: Barcelona. Their style of play is above anyone else's. It's just amazing to watch. If you were watching the World Cup, you would see how most of the Barcelona players played for the Spanish national team, and that's one of the reasons why they won the World Cup. To me, to watch Barcelona...that's what I aspire to be, even though it's way ahead of where I am right now. To be able to play with them would be a dream come true.
CalBears.com: Who are your favorite pro players?
SC: I have a lot. I root for the Mexican national team, and a lot of the players on our team make fun of me because Cuauhtémoc Blanco is one of my favorite players from Mexico. But then when I look at Spain, Xavi is one of my favorite players. I just have a lot of favorite players.
CalBears.com: Do you model your game after any one player?
SC: Not really one specific player. I try to take the best components of each player and kind of make like a super player, even though that's not me. I take Xavi's vision and then (Argentina's Javier) Mascherano's aggressiveness and willingness to compete.