Jump to content

- - - - -

Greg Klazura Continues To Impress At Whitecaps Training Camp

Another day in the books at the Whitecaps' training camp, and as transfer rumours swirl around Barry Robson, David Bentley and now Carlos Bocanegra coming to Vancouver, all the players know that squad places are prized commodities going forward, never mind a place in the starting line up. Even those already on the squad shouldn't feel too settled in BC.

Today's training was a day for some intrasquad game action. Everyone put in a good shift and worked hard, but once again, one of the standout players was Supplemental Draft pick Greg Klazura.

The 22 year old defender was the Caps' second round pick in this year's Supplemental Draft, and as we've mentioned before on AFTN, Klazura's performances have stood out and impressed <a href="http://www.canadiansoccernews.com/content.php?2752-Whitecaps-First-Week-Training" target="_blank">not only ourselves, but more importantly Martin Rennie</a>, during pre-season training so far.

Playing at left back, Klazura not only looked solid in defence today but was one of the key men going forward, with many breaks originating and continuing through him. Great to see and something we will need to see more off on both flanks this term.

We're pretty sure that his performances will see him earn a spot on the Caps MLS squad for the season ahead, so what better time to catch up with the former Notre Dame captain to see how he's finding life in MLS and his first professional training camp:
<i>"I've enjoyed it. I like the pace of the games. I think the intensity of the sessions has been really good.
I like getting to know the guys and the staff really know what they're doing. I'm liking it quite a bit."</i>

It can never be easy for rookies to come into an established set-up, albeit one with a lot of new faces. Is there much difference between training with the Caps and training with Notre Dame?

<i>"To be completely honest, it's not horribly different. You warm up, you do a session with focus on whatever it is and then a cool down, so it's kind of standard, but the pace is a little bit faster and the level, obviously, is expected to be a little bit higher. Overall it's pretty similar I think.</i>

Klazura was expected to be in last year's draft, and there was even talk of him being one of the Generation Adidas guys, but he decided to go back to Notre Dame for a fifth college year and continue his studies.

With so many young, talented guys just itching to get into the professional ranks, what was behind that decision?

<i>"I decided to go back because I wanted to graduate. That was the biggest thing. It's nice having that little bit of security with a degree, but also I really wanted to play for Bobby Clark [Head Coach at Notre Dame] and the Fighting Irish one more time back in the States.

I really enjoyed my time there and I thought we had a really good team this past year, even though things didn't quite go our way.

The two big reasons were to get my degree and hopefully win a National Championship. The second one didn't pan out but I'm still glad I went back."</i>

It's nice in this modern age to meet a player who has his head screwed on and realises that you need something to fall back on after your footballing career or if things take a downturn. It's also nice to see some loyalty to a team and a program.

By taking that extra year at college, and with Notre Dame not having the best of seasons, Klazura maybe fell under the radar a little bit and was not only overlooked in the MLS SuperDraft, but also in the first round of the Supplemental Draft before Vancouver snapped him up in round two.

With Supplemental Draft picks notoriously the first ones to get cut in training camps, was Klazura worried that he may not get his chance at MLS this season?

<i>"I was pretty confident that once I got drafted I would be able to show my stuff wherever I went. Unless you sign a contract before the combine, you get a senior deal or are Generation Adidas you're kinda going on trial.

So I knew this would be a trial for me, whether I was picked 60th or 15th, I was just happy for the opportunity and hoping it works out."</i>

He's impressed many on-lookers so far but there's still a lot of hard work to go to make sure that he earns one of few remaining roster spots. What does he feel he needs to do to make it to the Whitecaps MLS squad?

<i>"Well if people are saying good things, probably just keep doing what I'm doing! [laughs] You don't want to try to play like a player you're not and do things that you don't normally do. I'm an attacking outside back and just need to keep doing that and try to play well."</i>

Klazura certainly likes going forward and Martin Rennie is known for building teams that like to break from a firm footing at the back and this ethos suits Klazura down to the ground:

<i>"Originally, like a lot of players, I started in the midfield, then quite a lot at outside mid, then started to play outside back. I just like getting forward and never really took that out of my game, even when I was moved to the back line.

I kinda don't like playing in the back line if I'm told not to get forward. I enjoy doing that."</i>

And it clearly shows and hopefully Klazura gets a chance to develop his talents in Vancouver. I think he will.

It's going to be tough though. You have to expect that Klazura, Chris Estridge and Bilal Duckett are all really fighting for one roster spot, and Martin Rennie basically said as much today, although he did add that there could be two available depending on positions they could cover and needs.

With so much on the line, does that put any extra pressure on Greg?

<i>"Honestly, I try not to think about it. The writing's on the wall. We kind of all realise there's a limited number of spots. They're both good guys and good players. If you sit around and think about it, it's not going to do you any good. You just got to come to training and play hard.</i>

And he's certainly doing that.

Greg Klazura is a footballer with talent and a great attitude, both on the football pitch and in the community.

He would be an asset to the Caps squad and we hopes he makes it. Won't be long till we all find out.