Carl Schneider is an American professional soccer player the Forward Madison Football Club of the USL League 1. Schneider, a Madison native, won many honors as a high school player, including Wisconsin State Journal Player of the Year. Schneider took his talents to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and had a IFK Åmål in Sweeden, he came back to the states to play for his hometown team. A great player, Schneider is a fan favorite at Forward Madison.
The Carl Schneider Interview
2. In your senior year at La Follette, you won Wisconsin State Journal Player of the Year, how were you feeling after that?
I was feeling mad that I didn’t make the All-State team! Still, it was a cool honor, I have the newspaper article framed in my bedroom. I think really I was just hoping that that type of success could carry over into college soccer.
3. What did you time at the University of Wisconsin teach you?
My time at Wisconsin taught me patience and perseverance. I went from being a stud in high school to being last on the bench my freshman year. There were times it felt hopeless that I would ever become an important player on the team. But I waited, put tons of hours into training on my own, and slowly but surely I carved out a spot in the lineup. It’s quietly one of the achievements I’m most proud of.
4. You played in both the NPSL and PDL (now USL League 2) what was your experience like in these leagues?
Playing in the NPSL was a good experience for me during summers in college. College soccer can be so rigorous with school going on at the same time and with so much pressure to perform well. NPSL ball was a little more relaxed and served as a reminder of why I love soccer and I think that really helped me get through the tougher years of college. As for the PDL, that was a step up. I played for the Des Moines Menace and I think we had at least 5 future pros on that team, probably more, and that was some quality soccer. That was a good experience because it got me out of my comfort zone, it was the first time I lived outside of Madison.
5. What’s your biggest tip for aspiring professional players?
My biggest tip for aspiring pros is to be self-motivated. If you yourself want to improve and are willing to put in the time and hard work, and you don’t need a coach on your case 24/7, you will be taking strides that many many others will not. Once you figure out how to motivate yourself, when your coach announces that today’s practice will be very tough, or there will be fitness at the end, your response will be less like “oh no, I hate fitness!” and more like “Good, I am getting better today.”
6. Common misconception about being a professional?
I have friends that think my job is to play soccer for 2 hours a day. But a typical day can involve so much more than a practice, whether it’s watching film, weight training, appearing at public events for the team, traveling, etc. It’s a bigger time commitment than some might think.
7. What’s your biggest strength?
My biggest strength is goal celebrations. Unfortunately it’s not often that people can see my strengths in this area because…
8. What’s your biggest weakness?
My biggest weakness is scoring goals.
9. What’s your go to snack on the road?
I think this is probably a unique answer but I eat a lot of muffins on the road. I can snag one quick between flights at the airport, hotel breakfasts always have them. Blueberry, to be specific.
10. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Well, I would not be a very healthy person in this situation, but I think chicken wings consistently hit the spot. And if I’m allowed to have different sauces, they would definitely not get old.
11. Favorite song?
I could listen to Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind a hundred times and still be singing along to the “doo doo doo”s
12. What separates a professional from an amateur?
Fitness, speed of decision-making, and the attitude to persevere through less than ideal situations.
13. Best player you’ve ever faced?
This season we played a friendly against Hertha Berlin, where former Chelsea midfielder Salomon Kalou plays. I ALMOST tackled the ball away from him at one point, but he recovered and got control again. Still, I touched it.
14. After college, you went to Sweden to play with IFK Åmål, describe you time overseas?
Playing in Sweden was such a cool experience. The team I joined had so many different types of players: we had Swedes, of course but we also had Brazilians, Bosnians, French players, and a couple of Americans. Seeing people from so many different backgrounds come together was really cool and the team won promotion 2 out of the 3 years I was there. Outside of soccer, it was really fun getting to know another culture as far as language, holidays, and the fact that the days are 22 hours long in the summer!
15. After your time in Sweden, you signed for a new team in your hometown, Forward Madison FC, what’s it like to play in your hometown?
It’s really cool because this is the soccer environment I grew up in. I always had pride for the Madison/WI soccer scene and now I get to represent it on a national stage right here in town with friends and family cheering me on.
16. What’s your take on promotion/relegation for USA?
In Sweden I thought it was really cool how even the lower divisions have a pro/rel, it gives even amateur clubs something to strive for in the long run. In the US the level drops so steeply from pro to amateur, I think pro/rel would be great for the small local clubs and talented players that get displaced after college ball.
17. Describe the atmosphere when playing at home for Forward Madison?
It’s definitely the best game day atmosphere in USL League One, and the coolest atmosphere I’ve played in in my career. Breese Stevens Stadium is not big, which allows it to get PACKED for matches and I’d much rather have that than a big empty stadium. Win or lose, our supporters section, The Flock, are die hard fans and have done an amazing job in the club’s first season.
18. Craziest story from your playing career?
I don’t know if I can get in trouble for this... but in Sweden fans can bet on soccer matches even in the low divisions and I had teammates that bet on our team to win. I never did it except for ONCE. I put 20 dollars on us to win, we were down 3-0 at half and I was miserable. We went all out attack, took a 4-3 lead, gave up an equalizer, and scored with the last kick of the game to win 5-4. I collected my winnings and never bet again.
19. Who’s your biggest role model?
My biggest role model in terms of soccer is my former roommate and teammate Sam Howard. His work ethic off the field, his desire to seek out high level clubs and get his name out there, and the way he keeps himself busy outside of soccer are all things I admire from him. He’s a goalie though, so he needs me to keep him from being a complete weirdo.
20. How do you deal with failure?
I deal with failure by remembering that everything is a process. Even if something doesn’t go right one day, tomorrow is another opportunity to work towards the overall goal. You can’t get too up or too down on what happens on any one day. Trust the process.
21. Outside of soccer, what gives you happiness?
Soccer is so high octane and at times stressful. Outside of it, the things that make me happy are quiet relaxing activities. Fishing, reading in a coffee shop, slow bike rides, etc.
22. What are your main goals for the future?
I’d like to become a consistent starter in USL League One. That’s the next step for me I’d say. But in general just play at whatever the highest level is possible for me to play at. And move out of my parents’ house! I’m saving up!
23. If you could ask for one wish, what would it be?
Sheesh that’s a tough one. My first thought was that I'd wish that I could sprint nonstop without getting tired for 90 minutes. That’s pretty selfish though, so I guess I’ll say something less original, like end world hunger. That’s better, right?
24. Any last words for the readers?
If you don’t already, follow @forwardmadisonfc on social media. We have one of the best social media teams in the country and you won’t regret it!
Interview by Chris Dailey
Big thanks to Carl for the great interview! Truly a class player as well as great person! Good luck the rest of the season and in your future endeavors!