Jake Keegan is a pro soccer player for the Greenville Triumph of the USL League 1. Having played in both Ireland and the States, Keegan, a forward, has found the back of the net wherever he goes. He holds the record for most goals at Binghamton University, also winning the PDL Golden Boot in 2011, and he won the Galway Player of the Season award in 2015. Keegan has played in the League of Ireland First Division, NASL, and now of course, the newly found USL League 1.
Photo via https://twitter.com/jake__keegan
OUR INTERVIEW WITH JAKE KEEGAN
2. You scored tons of goals in your collegiate career at Binghamton, what advice would you give to college players looking to make an impact?
My biggest advice to college players would be first off decide where YOU want to go. Come up with a list of things that are most important to you. That could be academics, coaching, campus, location among other things but it has to be your decision. You can listen to your parents, friends, girlfriend, etc but it’s where you will spend the next 4 years so you have to be fully committed to where you are going. Once you make your decision, first impressions are everything. So make sure you are fit and ready to go for your freshman season.
3. Toughest part of the transition from college to pro?
The biggest difference between college and pro is that you are now facing players that rely on playing to take care of themselves and their family. Coaches also have less job security so they are less likely to take the time to let you develop. Their are no redshirts in the pros so your career could be over in the blink of an eye.
4. Biggest tip you would give to players for tryouts/trials?
Biggest tip for trials is to make sure your best qualities are shown within a team dynamic. If you are a goal scorer make sure you put yourself in position to show it but not in an overly selfish way. No coach wants to sign a player who only cares about himself and players often make that mistake when trying out.
5. You played outstanding in the PDL, what did playing in a league like the PDL teach you?
The PDL gave me the confidence to play at the professional level. Playing pro was a goal for me but I didn’t really believe it was possible until playing with the Westchester Flames in 2011. That season playing against all the top college players around the country as well as numerous former pros did so much for my career. I saw the level of some of the top players and I knew I had what it took to reach that level. I don’t know where I would be if I did not go to that open tryout with the Flames back in the spring of 2011.
6. How was your transition from America to Germany, where you played with FCA Darmstadt?
After graduating from college I struggled a bit to sign with a team. After being drafted by the Philadelphia Union I went on trials in Israel, Austria and the US without securing a contract. Luckily FCA Darmstadt gave me my first opportunity. In all honesty I thought I could play at a higher level but I needed to get my foot in the door. I did well there and that opened up the door to move to Ireland with Galway FC.
7. Three tips for strikers looking to get on the scoresheet?
Be proactive, play to your strengths and have confidence. As you get to higher levels the ball isn’t going to simply find you so you need to be proactive in finding ways to create chances for yourself. Once you get in positions to score it can be hugely mental so you can’t dwell on misses. Just focus on the next chance.
8. Toughest obstacle you’ve ever faced in your playing career?
Toughest obstacle was probably the time after college when I couldn’t find a team. I went on countless trials and no one wanted to sign me. I was down and for a period I doubted whether or not I had what it took to make it to the next level.
9. What is you stance on pro/rel for USA?
I’m all in on pro/rel. Playing for promotion in other countries created some of my fondest memories in soccer. In the US the structure isn’t necessarily there right away for pro-rel from MLS all the way down to the amateur leagues but I do think it is important to make steps in order to make an open pyramid in US soccer. I think it will help create more great stories along the lines of Jamie Vardy.
10. What was your time in Ireland like?
I loved Ireland. In Galway we got promoted the first season and made a cup final in the second. I loved the coach there, Tommy Dunne and he was so important to my development as a player. After moving to Edmonton for 2 seasons I was lucky enough to come back with St Patrick’s athletic. St Pats is one of the bigger clubs in the county. I had a decent season there and we qualified for the Europa League.
11. Favorite city you’ve played in?
Dublin hands down. I lived right in the middle of the city and I loved everything about the place. There’s plenty of places to go out and drink as I’m sure you would imagine but I personally loved all the small coastal towns and countryside sites far more. It’s truly a beautiful country and the east coast of Ireland is a beautiful place.
12. Favorite team and player growing up?
Manchester United and NY/NJ Metrostars. I was a big Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez fan for United and Michael Bradley was my favorite American player.
13. Go to snack on the road?
Almonds and coconut water
14. Any hobbies outside of soccer, if so what?
I love to watch all sports. Big basketball and football fan along with basically any soccer league.
15. Biggest misconception about being a pro?
Some people think it’s all fancy cars and nice houses but that’s only the top 10 percent. Most pro players are either making a decent living or just struggling to get by. You need to really love the game.
16. Craziest story from your career?
I have a lot but not many that I can share here. When I was playing in Germany our owner Andy B drove me and a couple players to one of our games. We were driving on the autobahn where there is no speed limit. He was driving around 250 km/h and I was terrified. We had to ask him to slow down. He laughed at us but he happily did it.
17. Dream vacation spot?
Anywhere with a beach. I love Aruba. Would love to go to Bora Bora.
18. If you could go back into the past, where would you go?
I’d like to go back to my senior year of high school. We lost in the State Final four and I want to win the state championship.
19. Who do you admire the most?
Tom Brady. His attention to detail in his training and lifestyle is remarkable. He’s clutch, he’s a winner and he has been doing it longer than anyone in history.
20. Are you a morning or night person?
I’m both! There’s no bad time of day.
21. If you could trade lives for a day with anybody in the world, who would it be
I’d probably like to trade with Ronaldo or Messi just to feel what it is like to be that good at playing soccer even if it’s only for a day.
22. Would you rather win the World Cup or Champions League
World Cup hands down. It’s the biggest competition and anyone who wins it is forever a legend.
23. How has your time been with the Greenville Triumph of USL League 1?
I’ve loved my time with the Triumph. USL League One is a quality league with a lot of good young players. Greenville has a great setup and has looked after the players exceptionally well.
24. Largest crowd you’ve ever played in front of?
Around 10k at Indy Eleven.
25. Best player you’ve ever faced?
David Villa. His movement and finishing in tight areas was absolutely breathtaking.
26. In three words, describe yourself?
Honest, loyal, persistent.
27. Biggest tips for players who want to become pro?
Believe in yourself and work smart. You can spend countless hours working on things that are going to make you a little better as a player or you can focus on things that will truly take your game to the next level. Making the most of your time is vitally important.
28. What are your goals for the future?
Play for as long as I can at the highest level possible
29. What’s your why?
I love playing this game and I can’t think of any better way to spend my time. I love the process of getting better.
30. Any last words for the readers?
Good luck to everyone in their upcoming seasons. Cherish the moments and relationships you have with your teammates.
We want to thank Jake so much for this interview! Awesome player and awesome person! Could not have been nicer, we really appreciate it Jake!
Written by Chris Dailey