Husky-voiced Josh Wicks, the self-described Barry White of goalkeepers, who played just two halves in Hawaii, and another half in Shanghai in preseason before coming on after 45 minutes last weekend for injured starting goalkeeper Steve Cronin, talked to the assembled media today (well, OK, all two of us) about his expected start Saturday:
Q: How did coming in at half time in the New England team help before your first MLS start Saturday against Real Salt Lake?
A: It got my feet wet a little bit, it took a little bit of the nerves off, coming in at the middle of the game rather than the start – the game was already rolling – so all I had to do was get on the bus and continue to ride. It kind of helped as far as shaking loose some nerves and getting rid of some of the cobwebs.
Q: What’s the difference between the USL (Wicks was the 2007 USL Goalkeeper of the Year) and MLS?
A: It’s sharper. Talent’s better – I wouldn’t say it’s extremely better – but it’s better. The players are a lot smarter and a lot quicker on the ball and it’s not as direct. … And the finishing – as a goalkeeper – is a lot more clinical in MLS than it has been in the USL.
Q: I’m sure when you came in at half time last weekend you didn’t have a chance to be nervous. Are you nervous (ahead of this weekend)?
A: I actually got a chance to be nervous coming in at half time against New England. The whole time I was warming up I was OK, but the 10 seconds from the rest of the meeting to running on the field … I had to get rid of my nerves. I’m looking forward to Salt Lake. I think if you don’t get nervous, there’s something wrong, it’s part of the game. Everyone wants to do well, everyone wants to play well and not make a mistake – so a little butterflies here and there there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s what you do with it and how you perform on that day that’s going to determine how you play.
Q: As far as the goalscoring threats for Real Salt Lake, who are you going to be most keeping your eye on?
A: My goal – make sure it doesn’t go in the goal. I don’t want to fixate on one person, I’d rather fixate on my back line, make sure they don’t allow them any chances.
Q: Talk about your goalkeeping style with the defense. Are you louder than Steve or quieter?
A: I’m loud anyway, on and off the field. As far as me talking you’d probably have a harder chance getting me to shut up.