Wan Kuzain on playing FIFA with Ochocinco, the eMLS Tournament Special and more

On Thursday morning, Sporting Kansas City hosted a conference call with 21-year-old midfielder and Academy product Wan Kuzain ahead of his appearance in the eMLS Tournament Special, which will be televised nationally at 6 p.m. CT Sunday on FS1. His full remarks are below.


On playing FIFA with former NFL star Chad Ochocinco in 2017…

That’s kind of when my FIFA career really took off. Chad Ochocinco is one of the big influencers when it comes to the FIFA community. A couple of years ago, he would tweet out stuff like “I’m the FIFA god,” or “Whoever thinks they can beat me in FIFA, I’m going to show up to your house and play you.” He lives in Miami, Florida, so he was never really in the Kansas City area for me to play him.

But one day his daughter was in Lawrence, Kansas, for nationals in track. He tweeted that he was going to be at the Legends outlet (in Kansas City, Kansas) for shopping. I saw his tweet and I tweeted back, “Hey, my house is your house. My pantry is your pantry.” That was kind of my way to get him in—he loves food. So I tweeted that out at around 2 o’clock. Then I happened to take a nap because it was shortly after practice. When I woke up from the nap an hour later, I saw that he had tweeted back at me. I was so mad because I thought my chance had gone, but I happened to DM him back and he replied and said, “I’ll be at your doorstep in 30 minutes.”

The next thing I know, he’s in the parking lot of my apartment complex saying “I love you” to random strangers. It was a really cool experience. We got to play three or four games. He was really good, actually. He surprised me a lot. I happened to win all four games. For winning, I asked him to please tweet out a picture telling people how good I was and stuff like that. He happened to tweet out a picture, and it was really funny. I am forever thankful for that moment.

I want to say he used Napoli. He was a big Napoli FIFA player at the time. In all of the games we played, he used Napoli. I was probably Juventus at the time. This was before Ronaldo was on the team, so they weren’t a superpower team. I used to use Juventus all of the time in FIFA before they got Ronaldo. Now it’s, like, shamed upon. (Ochocinco) was gracious in defeat. I offered him everything in my pantry, but he didn’t’ want to eat. He just wanted to play FIFA at the end of the day.

(Ochocinco) is a big 5-v-5 futsal player, and I knew he played a lot in Florida. I lived in the Crossroads at the time, and I lived right behind the Soccer Lot. It just so happened to be the perfect time where they were doing their pickup games. So I was like, “Yo, Chad, want to go play pickup soccer? It’s something that is similar to what you do in Miami.” So I took him there, and no one recognized him at first. There were probably 50-100 people there, but then everyone started seeing how tall he was and how he had this big Rolex on. Then he started saying “I love you” to everyone and people were like, “Oh my god, is that Ochocinco?” I felt so cool being around him at the time. Obviously I was just an academy player at the time, so no one really knew who I was.

On his passion for FIFA and his excitement for the eMLS Tournament Special…

Growing up in the day in age that I did grow up in, there were a lot of video games being played. My earliest memory of playing soccer video games was a game called Winning Eleven 9, which is now known as Pro Evoution Soccer, FIFA’s competitor. One day my brother bought the video game home for the original Xbox. I was 7 or 8 years old and I just spent so many hours playing that game. It wasn’t even playing online, it was just career mode. I remember playing that game non-stop, 24/7. From there on out, as I got older, I kept playing FIFA. The first FIFA that I can really remember playing a lot of is FIFA 12. They introduced this game called Ultimate Team, which is like a card collecting game. You basically try to collect cards of players from different teams and build your super team to compete online. I played that game for so many hours, and the best part was that all of my friends played it as well. Having my friends play that game mode as well made it really competitive. It made you want to be the best at it. I realized I would beat all my friends, beat people online, and I realized I was actually pretty good at this game.

On whether he would consider becoming a professional FIFA player…

You never know. One thing I’m starting to look into is streaming on my own Twitch channel. A lot of players in MLS and the NBA—guys like Devin Booker, Ochocinco, sports athletes like that—they stream on Twitch to give fans another way of looking into your life.

On his arc and development as a player at Sporting Kansas City…

(My goal) is to keep working hard, keep pushing and training every day. Obviously right now it’s hard, but you’ve just got to be ready when the moment happens. Development is a lot on you, so you have to keep putting in the extra work and keep trying to obtain the goals—keep trying to break into rosters, keep trying to get minutes. That’s what’s really important for me right now.

On the prospect of playing for the Malaysian national team…

This past winter, I had a call-up to play for the under-23 Malaysian national team. I was in camp with them for a week before they left for their tournament. I was supposed to go with them, but some paperwork fell through and I wasn’t allowed to go. At the time, though, I was all set on playing with them in that tournament. You never know with national team call-ups. A lot of it depends on your form, so whenever they reach out, it’s something to definitely look into.

On how he will approach Sunday’s eMLS Tournament Special…

It’s awesome getting to play FIFA on national TV, but most importantly, it’s for charity. That’s what’s really on my mind—just to help out these charities and what they’re doing right now. With me and Alekzandur, it’s a really good combination. It’s not just me—Alekzandur is one of the best in the business, so I have nothing to really be worried about.

On his pre-game ritual for FIFA gaming…

I’m going to approach it just like a normal game day. I’m going to get a lot of sleep, maybe practice a little bit the day before. Besides that, I’m pretty confident that I’m good enough to beat a lot of the other MLS pros. It’s just another normal day for me.

On playing alongside Kansas City native and eMLS pro Alekzandur in the tournament…

We actually have played before. We used to play in the Gfinity Cup, an online tournament that was hosted by Gfinity every Tuesday and Thursday around 6 p.m. It was tournament-style with 32 entries, and the winner would get $150 and second place would get $50. I used to do that when I was 17, still in the Academy, with nothing else to do after practice. Not knowing it, I was going up against a lot of the future eMLS pros who are current pros right now. Alekzandur was one of them. I was looking on my Xbox messages yesterday, actually, and I scrolled all the way to 2017 and I found a message from him saying, “Hey bro, send an invite.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out who won, but I found out we had played each other. It should be a really good pairing.

On how his FIFA skills have improved over time…

The more hours you put in is what you get out of it. As the years have gone by, the more I play, the more I get comfortable with FIFA in general. The better people you play, the better opponents you play online, you can only get better from there.

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