Last week, we met up with one of Sporting KC’s standout rookies, Amadou Dia, after he finished his daily post-practice rookie duties.
Here’s what he had to say:
Connor Erickson: Your friends and teammates call you “T”, where did that come from?
Amadou Dia: So my first name, not a lot of people know this, is actually Amadou-Tidiane. I used to go by Tidiane instead of Amadou and “T” was just short for that. My name is French-African. My parents are from Africa and they moved to France which is where I was born so it is a mix of those two.
AD: When I was 7, I moved to San Francisco, California. Then when I was 10, I moved to Denver.
CE: What do you remember most about France?
AD: Playing soccer in the streets a lot. Every Tuesday there was a pizza truck that would come to our neighborhood. It was like a routine and the whole neighborhood would go to the pizza truck and eat. It’s the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life.
CE: What was it like having to adjust to living in America as a kid?
AD: Everything was really different for me right away. I remember my sister teaching me about words that we couldn’t say. I learned how to say "ow" instead of "ay" for when I got hurt because it sounded like I was saying "hi". I remember thinking everything was a lot bigger and we had to travel everywhere by car, which was weird, because in France we just walked everywhere or used the subway
CE: What was the draft like for you?
AD: It was really cool. I didn’t get invited to the combine and I didn’t think I was going to get drafted. So I was just sitting at home watching it on my laptop. Then my name got called and I was shocked. I got really excited and started calling everybody, my phone started blowing up, and then Peter (Vermes) called me so it was a really cool experience.
CE: So you had not been expecting to get drafted at all, and you heard your name get called in the first round? How did that feel?
AD: Yeah it took me a second to realize what just happened. It was a really cool experience.
Mitch Cissell: What is your favorite thing about living here so far?
AD: Everybody is really nice here. Everywhere I go people are saying hello and they are super friendly and I really like that.
MC: We saw you carrying water around for the guys, what else do you have to do as a rookie?
AD: It’s all the same stuff you have to do as a freshman in college. After practice is done I put all of the equipment away. I fill the fridge with water and stuff like that. It’s not bad at all.
CE: You’re roommates with fellow rookie Saad Abdul-Salaam. How has that gone so far?
AD: It’s been good. We have some intense FIFA games. There is lots of yelling during those. Other times we just nap and chill in our apartment, maybe go grab some dinner. Tim (Melia) lives in our apartment complex with his wife so we hang out with them too.
CE: Okay now for some serious questions, rapid fire style. One Direction or Justin Bieber?
AD: I’m going to have to go with Justin Biebs. I actually kind of like his style of music. He’s actually pretty good at singing and he has some songs that I like.
MC: If you could do a duet with anyone, who would it be and to what song?
AD: I would sing with Beyonce for sure. I have no idea what song. I would let Beyonce pick the song.
MC: What is something you’ve always wanted to do but have been too afraid to try?
AD: Bungee Jumping. I’m afraid of heights, but I’m going to do it one time at least.
MC: Most random thing you’ve ever watched on Netflix?
AD: I actually watched the One Direction documentary, but just a little bit.
CE: Woah, woah, I thought you were a Belieber.
AD: I only watched it for 10 minutes then I turned it off so it doesn’t count!
CE: What is your secret talent?
AD: I can cook pretty well.
CE: What is your best dish?
AD: Crepes. My stepmom is a chef so she taught me to cook some things.
CE: Have you ever thought about going on Top Chef?
AD: No, I would win the whole thing too easily!
MC: Who is the best dancer on the team?
AD: Probably Connor Hallisey. You should ask him to dance for you.
MC: For sure! We'll be meeting up with him sometime soon. If you could take three celebrities on a trip to Vegas who would you take?
AD: Oh man… I would take Margot Robbie because she is gorgeous. This is tough... I would probably take Dom (Dwyer) because I’m always hanging out with him. He’s a pretty big celebrity too. For the third person, maybe Selena Gomez.
MC: Why Selena?
AD: I really appreciate her musical ability. (Smirks sarcastically)
I recently sat down with forward Krisztián Németh to learn more about the Hungarian goal scorer’s off the field life.
Connor Erickson: What were you like as a child?
Krisztián Németh: I really played soccer a lot when I was a kid, by myself or with my friends. That’s what I like doing. That was pretty much my whole childhood.
CE: Now that you’re busy being a professional soccer player, when you get some time off, where is your favorite vacation/holiday spot?
KN: One of my best holidays was in Cancun, that place was really fun. If I go on holiday in Europe probably San-Tropez in France.
CE: You recently asked your girlfriend a very important question, can you tell us about that?
KN: That was in Venice, Italy and it was a big surprise, I took her there and proposed to her. She had no idea until I asked her the question. I was very good at keeping that a secret.
CE: What is one thing you miss most about living in Europe?
KN: The things I miss the most are my family, and my friends. Some of the food but not all of it, just some of it. It’s really those first two things that are the most important to me. Also a little bit Budapest. I love Budapest. I love this city too though. It is a very good place to live.
CE: What is the strangest thing that people in the the United States do?
KN: When the stoplights are red, in America I can go right. That was a little bit strange for me because in Europe when it is red you have to stop no matter what.
CE: Speaking of strange American things, do you watch zombie movies?
KN: Oh yeah I know those
CE: So the zombie apocalypse starts tomorrow, which 2 teammates do you call?
KN: To survive, I would take Benny because he is funny, and maybe Marcel.
CE: Why Marcel?
KN: He would be one of the best guys for that (surviving).
CE: When you listen to American music, what is your go to?
KN: I like Chris Brown, that kind of music.
CE: So if you could be a musician, would you sing, rap, play an instrument? What would you be?
KN: I would probably be Chris Brown
CE: You would just be Chris Brown? Do you think you have the moves to pull that off?
KN: No, I don’t have those skills, I can’t dance very well.
CE: What is your opinion on American food?
KN: American food is very good but it is way too much. I can eat lunches and dinners together and I will be fine for the whole night
CE: If someone gave you 1 million dollars, what would you do with it?
Peter Vermes: He would give me half right away
KN: Yeah I would give him half, and give you half too.
CE: Would you fight one round in the UFC for one million dollars?
KN: I don’t really want to get in a ring with one of them. Definitely not for a million. I want to keep playing soccer so I would not take money to fight a professional.
CE: Who on the team would last the longest?
KN: Me….No, definitely not (laughs). We don’t really have many big, tough guys. Maybe Jalil Anibaba.
CE: Who would last the least amount of time?
We sat down with Sporting KC defender Jalil Anibaba to get to know him a little better off the field. Check it out:
Jamila St. Ann: What is your post game routine after a win?
Jalil Anibaba: After a win I grab a bite to eat, chill for a little bit and then probably do something with the guys on the team.
JS: What’s your most commonly played song lately?
JA: Hmm, maybe…One Man Can Change the World by Big Sean.
JS: What video games do you play?
JA: FIFA, nothing else really.
JS: Are you any good?
JA: I hold my own. I’m not as good as Seth (Sinovic). I’ve heard Seth is amazing. And Soni Mustivar is good.
JS: Who’s the worst FIFA player on the team?
JA: Servando probably. Servando is terrible at FIFA!
JS: Any celebrity crushes?
JA: Eva Mendes!
JS: You’re crowned King for a day. What is your first royal rule?
JA: Hmm…everyone gets a day off from work with unlimitedly charged iPhones.
JS: Tell us an embarrassing story.
JA: When I was under eight years old, so about six or seven, we were playing in the city championship game. My dad was the coach and we were playing our rival team and I really had to pee…
JA: Yes! Like really, really had to pee. And I’m a little kid, I can’t deal with it. And my dad is intense, like Peter (Vermes) times five. So he’s yelling at us to do this and do that and I’m like, “Daddy, daddy! I have to pee! Sub me out!” And he’s like, “No just go!” So, I just peed on the field. No one knew what I was doing. So I squatted, took a pee and we ended up winning the game so I guess it was worth it!
JS: What’s one meal you would eat for the rest of your life?
JA: There’s a lot I’d pick. Maybe general tso chicken and fried rice? Not the healthiest for you obviously, but it’s the truth.
JS: What type of animal would you be and why?
JA: A cheetah just because it’s always been my favorite animal since I was a kid.
JS: What type of animal would Peter Vermes be?
JA: I don’t know, a tiger or something. Definitely something fierce.
JS: You’re stuck on a deserted island with the team. Who lives the longest? Why?
JA: Me of course. Because I’d like to think I’d survive.
JS: Who dies first? Why?
JA: Benny (Feilhaber) dies first because we all kill him because he’s talking way too much.
JS: Finally, what’s the last lie you told?
JA: Probably that I would survive longest on the team if we were stuck on a deserted island. But seriously, I jokingly told Benny I wanted to room with him in LA and that’s definitely a lie!
Jalil Anibaba notched his first assist in a Sporting Kansas City uniform on Sunday, marking the milestone on the game-winning goal no less. Anibaba, who joined Sporting KC via a trade with Orlando City SC in the offseason, has started Sporting KC's last seven matches - a span in which the club has lost only once.
The North Carolina product has lived in three different cities over the past five seasons of his professional career, most recently in Seattle before calling Kansas City home. But the 26-year-old outside back will always have a special appreciation for his Nigerian heritage.
Anibaba -- with his father's help -- taught himself Yorùbá, the dialect of his father's Nigerian tribe. Anibaba took the time to teach 38 the Spot host Crystle Lampitt how to say "I love Kansas City" in his native tongue. Catch the two-part interview below:
This week's Sporting Spotlight on 38 the Spot featured Amadou Dia. The first year professional was born in France and spoke no English when he arrived to the United States as a youth. Now Dia is fluent in English and loves living in the USA, but there are some things from the homeland that he'll always find hard to live without.
Catch the two-part segment below with host Crystle Lampitt to find out what Dia misses the most from his childhood:
Sporting Kansas City welcomed 13 new players to the club's roster ahead of the 2015 season. Crystle Lampitt from 38 the Spot will be getting to know a handful of these guys over the next couple of months. Krisztian Nemeth was first in the hot seat. Watch the full interview below to get to know Sporting KC's newest goalscoring threat:
Get to know Colombian midfielder Jimmy Medranda away from the field.
Outside of soccer, what do you like to do?
JM: I like to talk with my family and listen to music
What type of music?
JM: Salsa and vallenato. Vallenato is like a national symbol of Colombia and people on the coast listen to it the most. My favorite Vallenato artist is Diomedes Diaz and my favorite salsa artist is Julio Garcia.
If you were on a deserted island, what song would you bring with you?
JM: I would bring “volver a vivir” by Diomedes Diaz.
Other than the necessities, what would you take with you to a desert island?
JM: A soccer ball!
If all the Sporting KC team were on this island, who would die first and who would last the longest?
JM: Hmm I´m not sure. I would say that Jalil would last the longest because he is strong. I think Connor would go first just because he is young and hasn´t been on his own for very long.
Who is the best dancer on the team? You? I hear you like to dance.
JM: I am the worst dancer but I would say that Mateus, the fitness coach, dances very well.
If Peter Vermes were an animal, what animal would he be?
JM: Hmm I would say a dog because sometimes he is calm and at other times he is intense.
What is your favorite place to visit?
JM: My hometown Mosquera Nariño.
What is your favorite food?
JM: I really like my Mom´s Shrimp Ceviche. I also really like “Arroz Aliñado” which is yellow rice with chicken, beef, fried noodles and vegetables.
What is your favorite book?
JM: The Secret. I´m not sure who wrote it but it is about overcoming obstacles and self-improvement.
What is the most daring thing, like skydiving, that you have ever done?
JM: I don´t really like extreme activities.
Do you have a fear?
JM: I have a fear of heights but more so than that, I fear being high up in risky situations like in extreme sports.
Which country will win the Copa America?
What is the biggest lesson that your parents have taught you?
JM: Respect. They taught me that you should always respect people.
I caught up with Sporting Kansas City's first Uruguayan player to find out everything you need to know about Uruguay, why bees scare him and how Will Smith made him cry.
Jamila St. Ann: Is there anything we need to know about Uruguay that we may not already know?
Alex Martinez: One of the biggest parts of our culture is that we drink mate. It’s like tea, without the bag. You put it in this special cup, pour hot water and sugar in and you sit with your family and drink it as a group. It kind of sets us apart I guess.
JS: What about food?
AM: I’m a bit biased, but I think we have the best food. We eat a lot of meat: sausage, pork, just lots of meats.
JS: Do you have a nickname?
AM: My friends and old teammates call me Lexi. Everyone on my team when I was younger had nicknames on the team that we all just called each other, too.
JS: If you could give yourself a new nickname, what would you give yourself?
AM: I’m fine with Alex or Lexi; those work.
JS: What’s the last movie that made you cry?
AM: It was a while ago, but the Pursuit of Happyness. That was a good one.
JS: What was your first impression of this team when you got here?
AM: I first came here during the summer, and enjoyed it a lot. The coaching staff and everyone around was welcoming. The great thing about everyone here is that we have big name players who don’t act like they're big name players. They talk to everyone, whether a rookie or a veteran, they treat everyone the same, and that’s what I love about it here.
JS: Who is the funniest guy on the team?
AM: It has to be Jimmy! Jimmy Medranda, my roommate. He's the funniest, goofiest guy I know.
JS: What’s your favorite thing to do with your free time?
AM: I have a couple things. I try to have quiet time everyday with the Lord. My religion is very important to me and I try to just have quiet moments everyday in my faith. And I play a lot of FIFA. My roommates and I had a tournament yesterday. Me, Igor Juliao, Victor Munoz, and Jimmy all played. Victor won.
JS: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
AM: In Uruguayan culture, there’s not much to do. You either play soccer or you go off and work. So as a little boy I wanted to play the game, make it my profession, and play it at the highest level I can. I also wanted, and still do want, to play for the National Team of Uruguay.
JS: What’s something that scares you?
AM: Oh! I’m scared of spiders, snakes. Bugs as a whole don’t really bother me, but bees do. Those are the big things I try to stay away from.
JS: If you were king for a day, what would your first three laws be?
AM: I’d probably say that everyone has to play soccer, everyone has to be active and healthy, and that everyone has to respect everyone else.
JS: You’re lost in the city without your phone or a map, what do you do?
AM: I would probably stop and ask for help. And I would definitely write it down too, because if they just tell me, I’ll forget.
JS: What’s your favorite thing about Kansas City?
AM: Definitely the atmosphere around soccer. The reason I’m here is for soccer. Being out at the games, the atmosphere is the best that I’ve been to here in the US.
Midfielder Sal Zizzo is Sporting Kansas City’s newest acquisition and I caught up with him to hear how he plans to stand out in the team, the time he pulled gum out of a stranger’s hair, and why Kansas City might be the perfect place for a food cart. Check it out!
Jamila St. Ann: Someone told me you had a food truck, Zizzo’s FC, in Portland? Tell everyone a little bit more about it.
Sal Zizzo: Yeah yeah, it was an Italian food cart. My extended family owns, maybe, six or seven restaurants in San Diego and sometimes they have fairs in Little Italy with different Italian foods and we saw the food cart scene in Portland, at the time, so a friend and I decided to test it out. My friend and I got ourselves a food cart, opened it up, and it did well. Eventually, he moved back down to San Diego and with playing, I didn’t really have time to deal with the upkeep, so I had to get rid of it.
JS: Would you consider opening up a food cart here in Kansas City?
SZ: Yeah, I would consider it. Once I get a little more settled in, you never know!
JS: Are you excited to be in Kansas City?
SZ: Yeah! Definitely, I checked out places the last few days I’ve been in town. It all looks pretty cool.
JS: Did you know anything about Kansas City before you got here?
SZ: I did. I was actually the most diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan growing up. I had a big, puffy KC Chiefs coat out in San Diego and I’d wear it to school and whatnot. Obviously I knew about the barbecue, but not much more about the city other than the Chiefs.
JS: And before you got here, you played with our own Chance Myers at UCLA. Do you remember that time together well?
SZ: Yeah. Chance is a good guy. We were at UCLA together when I was a sophomore and he was a freshman, just coming in, so I kind of showed him the ropes. And then I left when Benny [Feilhaber] came in, but I remember him pretty well from playing in Germany, too.
JS: Do you have any embarrassing stories or secrets about either of them from then?
SZ: Um, not really anything I can say publicly. *laughs*
JS: Do you have any embarrassing moments about yourself you’d like to share?
SZ: One time, I was in an airport and I was trying to spit out my gum. It got stuck on my hand and I was trying to fling it off and it flew backwards and landed in a girl’s hair. I didn’t know her and I was trying to pull it out and she was like “Ahh!” and it was kind of ripping at her hair and then it just kind of ended and we just walked away like nothing happened. It was really awkward and it was kind of funny too. It’s a funny story to tell.
JS: I saw a video you did with KICKTV Gaming, where you played a Portland super fan in FIFA 14. You’re not very good…
SZ: No, wait! *laughs* So, I’ve since then improved greatly.
JS: Good, because I was going to say that this team prides itself on its FIFA 14 gaming skills.
SZ: You’d be surprised now with my abilities. This past offseason, I was playing a lot of FIFA 14. I can pretty much guarantee if I got a rematch of that game, I would win.
JS: We’ll check back later in the season when you play some of the other guys here then.
SZ: Okay, we’ll see then!
JS: I also heard you were a big baseball fan?
SZ: Yeah. More of a football fan, but I played baseball growing up and through high school.
JS: Then if you could pro in anything else, what would it be?
SZ: If I had to choose, if I were very good at it, I would say golf.
JS: Not baseball or football? That’s a wildcard answer!
SZ: Yeah, it’s so much more relaxing other sports. And you still get to travel and see cool places. If we were talking most realistic for me to maybe make it pro in, then I’d probably say baseball. But my dream would probably be golf.
JS: Is there anything important that SKC Nation needs to know about you?
SZ: Not really, let me think… I am 100% Sicilian. Both of my parents were born in Sicily. And I’m just a really cool guy.
Jonathan Kaplan from the background: And clearly modest too! *both laugh*
SZ: Nothing else, really, other than that.
JS: Then describe your personal style for everyone.
SZ: As far as clothing or…
JS: Answer however you like!
SZ: I’m pretty laid back, pretty relaxed. I like to have fun, but I get down to business when I need to.
JS: So how will you stand out in this team full of big personalities?
SZ: I’ll make friends with everyone, so that’ll make me the “nice guy that everyone likes.” *laughs* Maybe [I’ll stand out] with my sense of humor. I’ll be pretty sarcastic at times and make a lot of jokes.
JS: What are you most excited about, being with this team now?
SZ: I’m excited to meet a lot of the guys. Excited to be apart of a winning culture, a team that’s won the Open Cup and the MLS Cup in back to back seasons. It’s a very deep squad and I’m looking forward to playing with these talented players everyday.
I sat down with our newest addition, goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to talk about what he's looking forward to this season, important things SKC Nation needs to know about him, and why you should call him the "Hebrew Hammer."
Jamila St. Ann: Are you excited to have SKC Nation on your side now, rather than against you?
Andy Gruenebaum: Yeah, it’s one of those things where I remember coming back to play where they really don’t care where you’re from, if you’re not on their team, so it’s great to be on the other side of that. Here now, helping this team win another championship.
JS: Speaking of SKC Nation, give them, the proper pronunciation of your last name, because there are some disagreements.
AG: Well I’m in the school of thought that it’s pronounced “Green-a-baum”, but I know other people in my family even that say “Gru-ne-baum”. But for years, my friends have justcalled me G-baum, just cut out the middle man, and it’s just easier that way.
JS: You roomed with our own Eric Kronberg at the MLS Combine together nine years ago, and last year our GKs roomed together on the road, are you looking forward to sharing a space with Krony again?
AG: If that happens, I’m sure it’ll be fun. It all depends on our sleep schedules. I’m kind of an early riser and I make a big production out of breakfast, it’s my favorite meal of the day. Whoever I room with, I hope is on the same time schedule, so we’ll see.
JS: Our goalkeepers have been given nicknames by SKC nation. Jimmy Nielsen was the ‘White Puma’, Eric Kronberg has been dubbed ‘Krony’ or ‘Kronic’, and Jon Kempin gets referred to as ‘Big Kempin’. Do you have any suggestions for what they should call you?
AG: This nickname stuck with me from college all the way to the Crew, so everyone has called me the “Hebrew Hammer”. My roommates in college started calling me that after they saw this movie called ‘The Hebrew Hammer’, and so that’s how it got started. So that’s what I’ve got going right now.
JS: Last year I asked Eric to give himself a team title and he said, “Eric Kronberg: Team Badass.” Give yourself a Sporting KC team title. “Andy Gruenebaum: Team _________.”
AG: That’s putting me on the spot…*laughs* Just, uh, Team Glad to Be Here.
JS: Describe your personal style. We have a lot of big personalities here, what style does Andy Gruenebaum bring to Sporting KC?
AG: I think I’ll bring a good team presence. I’m all about doing whatever is best for the team and whatever it takes to win. I kind of put my head down and work and whatever role I’m given, I take that on. I’ll try and push other guys as well as myself. That’s always been my mentality and that’s what I hope to bring to this squad.
JS: What’s an embarrassing moment you’d be willing to share with SKC Nation?
AG: *laughs* Go on YouTube and type in ‘Danny Cepero’. I’m most known for being the first goalkeeper to get scored on by another goalkeeper, in MLS history. You can see me do the backstroke, a little bit. That moment, as embarrassing it was, made me mentally stronger. But yeah, it was definitely my most embarrassing moment.
JS: Is there anything else these SKC fans should know about you?
AG: I have a pet rabbit, Roo. People got a kick out of that in Columbus. I know my rabbit loves Sporting Blue already, so I’ll be tweeting out a picture of that soon. She’s a blast.
JS: What are you looking forward to most this season?
AG: Just getting to know these guys, and being apart of a really good team that has the chance to win a championship, year in, year out. Being back home, also. My wife and I are both from here, and we’ve felt like vagabonds up until now.