Sporting Kansas City drafted midfielder Konrad Warzycha in the third round (46th overall) of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft last month. After spending four years in Columbus, Ohio at Ohio State University and training with the Columbus Crew – coached by his father Robert Warzycha – during the summer offseasons, Konrad played his first pre-season match on Saturday against none other than the Columbus Crew at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix, Arizona.
Konrad, one of Kansas City’s three 2011 SuperDraft picks, stood out to Sporting Manager Peter Vermes in his 30 minutes of action in Saturday’s second session, won 1-0 by KC.
“C.J. Sapong and Konrad Warzycha have played well and have held their own for sure,” Vermes said. “Both of them have a good understanding of their position inside our team and because of some of their qualities they have, it even accentuates their position even more because of the quality each brings to his position.”
SportingKC.com caught up with the rookie -- honored as Ohio State's Team Co-MVP at last week's banquet -- to ask him about facing the familiar foes for the first time and much more.
What was it like to play your first professional game against Columbus?
I practiced with the Crew for the past few summers, so I know a couple of guys on the team. It was nice to get out there and play against them and be on the other team for once.
Did you get an evaluation from your dad after the game?
I did talk to him for a little bit. He said I did well for the most part. I also talked to Manager Vermes and the other coaches here, and the stuff I got from them was great.
How has the experience of training with Columbus helped you now that you’re trying to earn a spot on Sporting Kansas City’s roster?
It gives you an idea of how you need to play and the speed of the game, which is the most important part. It was good to get a feel for what the formations are like and to get used to the style of play. It really helps you realize where you need to be during practice and what things you need to work on.
You get asked about your father a lot, tell us something about your mom we should know.
She’s a great cook and she holds the family together. She’s the best mom in the world. Always got dinner and lunch ready, anything you could ask for, she’s always there. She’s really been the strong point in the family, keeping everyone together and close.
Your brother played at Marshall and your sister was an accomplished high school player, safe to say the Warzycha household is a soccer family?
For sure. My brother played in college, my sister played in high school. I didn’t get to watch many of her games, but she was first team all-state her senior year, so she was pretty good. It really helped that all of us were always athletic and competing in games in the backyard or around the house. That helped a lot.
In 2007, you were a freshman at Ohio State University and Buckeyes teammate with Sporting Kansas City defender Roger Espinoza. Tell us about Roger back then.
He likes to say that I used to clean his shoes. Just for record, I want to set that straight, he would clean my shoes. Ha, he never did that. Roger and I were both in the same boat since it was both our first years at Ohio State. We did a lot of rookie duties, and he did them right next to me. He likes to say he bossed people around but that wasn’t true.
You turn 22 on Monday, any plans for a dual Valentine’s Birthday celebration in Arizona?
Not at all. If it was 21, it might be a different story. But 22 is kind of a down birthday, just getting older at this point. So right now, no plans. You never know – maybe something will come up.
At age 22, where did you expect to be in your playing career? Did you ever think about it?
I always hoped to be playing somewhere. Twenty-two is still young, so just to go somewhere and get an opportunity. I didn’t know where that would be, in the U.S. or maybe in Europe or Poland to try to play. I really just hoped I would be in the position I am in today.
You have dual citizenship in the U.S. and Poland – where did you live growing up?
I was born in Poland and lived there for two years. Then we moved to England for four years. Then we moved to Hungary for two years after that. Then we moved here in 1997.
With all the travels and accolades, what are your top three moments in your soccer career thus far?
1. The 2007 NCAA College Cup and that experience
2. Winning the 2009 Big Ten Tournament my junior year
3. Winning the 2009 Big Ten regular season conference championship my junior year