Another week, another great interview with an up-and-coming goalkeeper in the US soccer system. Stumptown AC goalkeeper Kevin Gonzalez has put his name on the map this season with some standout performances and we were very excited to get the opportunity to speak with him about his journey. Read it all below!
1. You're from the Bay area out in California. Is soccer a big part of the culture in that area? How has it grown over the years?
The Bay Area has always had strong teams and rich futbol communities. It’s been an avenue for many low income communities. Each region in the bay has its ballers from Oakland, to San Jose, to East Palo Alto and back to Richmond.
It’s scary because, at some points still in the bay, soccer has been only for the wealthy and players of higher education.
I believe the way lower league soccer has picked up in the bay, it has given the opportunity for young talent to be showcased. Teams such as El Farolito, JASA, The Olympic Club, and other clubs are all competing and filling in the grey areas for the community players, staff, and officials.
2. What (or who) drew you to the goalkeeping position? What made you want to stick with it?
Jorge Campos, he was one of the few goalkeepers who played both goalkeeper and forward professionally. I began playing forward but I was always in the scenario where I had to pick between the two.
Sophomore year of high school, my coach and dad told me to suit up; I was going in goal. I refused a bit but I was told to be a team player. The rest is history.
3. At what point, in your soccer journey, did you realize professional soccer is something you wanted to pursue?
Freshman year in college when I began playing with US Open Cup champions El Farolito Sc in San Francisco, California. I was the youngest one in the locker room by a long shot and getting compensated for my abilities. I felt my whole perspective changed as soon as I walked into the locker room. I felt my manners and the way I prepared had to change and always be ready in certain soccer environments. Professionalism started to be a thing for me.
4. You had a unique journey after high school. Talk us through what brought you to City College of San Francisco then ultimately Holy Names University?
Honestly I come from a first generation family where my parents didn’t know much about college. I had schools with interest, I spoke to Division 1-3 but nothing came about until the end when it was too late. Spoke to many players from schools I would go on recruitment trips to. I was told how programs were ran and I didn’t like it. I chose the junior college route.
I searched for the best Junior college in my radius and chose CCSF. I went from being starter to third string and back to first. Went to a final four as a true freshman, and then to the elite eight following season. I wasn’t the best in knowing about recruitment as a transfer so I would end up choosing Holy Names University. Didn’t win much but may still have the record for most saves in one game and season in school history.
5. You have experience at a number of different levels in the soccer pyramid here in the United States. How have those experiences helped to mold you as a goalkeeper?
I always looked at it as “there’s levels to this” kind of perspective. Every level has taught me something unique. If it was Sunday league, indoor, futsal, 7v7 or anything in between. If I could play games and make saves, I knew I was getting better.
Sunday league in the Bay Area is high caliber so I always felt that was a way for me to train my composure and experience against pros or ex pros in the bay.
6. What is your mentality like every day going into training? How does it help you stand out against your competition?
To be better than whoever I’m competing against. They don’t know what I’ve gone through to get there and they probably don’t care. So I just go in thinking work harder.
7. Have you found it hard to adapt to the various environments you've been in? How do the different levels of play compare to each other?
There’s always been a sense of composure but in different ways. From Sunday league fans to US Open cup matches they all have their different and difficult thrill when you’re playing.
I’ve found it pretty difficult adapting to the weather and surface compared to what we usually have in California. It has really taken me out of my comfort zone but has helped me grow in experience and what to expect whenever I travel to an away game.
8. What is your ultimate goal as a soccer player? How do you plan to get there?
My ultimate goal as a footballer is to be a starter for a great club and town where I can raise my family and invest in future endeavors.
I plan on getting there off of hard work and being a great person in the community I live in. I want my family to be accepted and loved in every city I pull up to.
9. What advice do you have for goalkeepers who struggle with the motivation to continue dealing with the obstacles of sports?
"Just keep going"
Nobody knows what it is like to play goalkeeper unless they are one. It’s about being consistent and being motivated through hardships and mistakes. Especially in a position where you have to be ready for your opportunity that can come at any moment.
10. Best Bay area rapper of all time?
Mac D.R.E, although Mistah Fab is my favorite.