Tag Archives: Debbie Haar

Coffee​ with Tomas Hilliard-Arce of the LA Galaxy

LA Galaxy Key Contributor

By Debbie Haar // @GalaxySoccerMom

Watching Tomas Hilliard-Arce walk into an L.A. Starbucks, you’d think he was any average 20 something college student grabbing a cup of coffee before class. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The 23-year-old center back, a twice PAC-12 defensive player of the year, lead his team at Stanford to three consecutive NCAA National Championships. He was then picked up by the L.A. Galaxy as the second pick of the first round in 2018 MLS SuperDraft.

Debbie Haar: Are you ready to do this?

Tomas Hilliard-Arce: Let’s do it.

DH: The day after you were picked up by the Galaxy in the SuperDraft, what was going through your mind?

THA: I was scared. It was overwhelming. I’m confident in myself, but I just went from somewhere where I knew how to control the situation in college to where I’m at the bottom of the totem pole. There were a lot of stars on the team who probably wouldn’t respect someone coming right out of college, so I had everything to prove. I was fortunate to come into a situation where I had 30 automatic friends and a club that cares about me.

DH: Do you have any pregame rituals?

THA: The team manager would give me smelling salts, then I would just hit him as hard as I could, like a chest bump or I’d smack myself in the head and get myself completely fired up. Makes me feel like if someone else were to hit me, I’m ready for it.

DH: What is your family like?

THA: We are very competitive. My Dad has set a very high standard so I’ve always feared failure.

DH: Did you fight with your sisters growing up?

THA: I started soccer late, like 11-12. My older sister and I were in karate growing up and she used to physically dominate me.

DH: Was there that pivotal moment when the tides turned?

THA: She just channeled her dominance into being emotionally abusive. (laughs)

DH: Are you a dog or a cat person?

THA: I really wanted a dog. My Dad said I had to train myself to be responsible, so I had to get a fish and keep it alive for 6 months first. (laughing) We used to leave and go on road trips and there was no one to feed it. I would just dump an unbelievable amount of food in there. It didn’t even make it 3 months.

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       Tomas Hilliard Ace playing for Stanford during the 2017 College Cup. Image: Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

DH: I’ve seen you talk about faith, do you think your faith impacts you on the soccer field?

THA: My big moment of finding faith was on the field, so I feel like that is the place where it comes out the most. I’ve been able to play for those in my family who have passed away or gotten sick and I get a lot of strength from them. This year I was looking for something to really play for and put my heart on the field for. My 44-year-old cousin who lives in Costa Rica, who is just an amazing person, recently died unexpectedly a couple days after our vacation there ended. I was with her the day before we left, and being a pro soccer player here in the USA might not mean anything, but there it’s everything. My mom called me the day after the funeral and said I was my cousin’s hero, so I need to play for her this season. I have so many people supporting me, the least I can do is give them my all.

DH: What household chore do you hate to do?

THA: My mom is Latina and my Dad is American. My mom is a stay at home mom and loved to baby us kids. I was the only son, so she super babied me. Now that I live alone, I am really, really bad at laundry. It costs $3 in quarters and I feel bad going to the cashiers and asking for all their quarters. Plus, it always comes out wrinkly.

DH: Do you play video games?

THA: I am a video game guy! Right now I’m all Fortnite. A lot of my friends are professional soccer players so we get home at 1pm. What are you going to do all day?

DH: I see other players on the Galaxy playing [Fortnite], like David Bingham.

THA: I play [Fortnite] with him, he’s a fun guy to play with. He’s super competitive on the field and at video games.

DH: Do you have a favorite TV show?

THA: I’m pretty religious about The Bachelor.

DH: Do you have a favorite movie?

THA: I’m a big RomCom guy. I’m supposed to be a big tough center back so I can’t say The Notebook, but it’s such a good movie. I’m a big Rachel McAdams fan. I’m a hopeless romantic.

DH: Toilet paper roll, over or under?

THA: I live in a little apartment with another guy who plays soccer and we have the most male apartment ever. We don’t have any essentials. We don’t have scissors or anything sharper than a butter knife. We don’t even have a toilet paper dispenser thing.

DH: Tell me something you are bad at?

THA: Cooking! I never cook. Most of the time when they give us lunch at the facilities I take a bunch of to-go boxes and eat it for dinner.

DH: Do they tease you about that?

THA: Oh for sure! They say learn how to cook or stop looking like a homeless dude when you’re leaving.

DH: Tell me about a time in your life when you were being tested or challenged.

THA: To make it to pro soccer you have to have been “the man” on the team you came from and to get here and be competing with 30 other men is challenging. I realized I was a college player and now a rookie, and pretty much the youngest out there. You can either get frustrated with it or create a lesson learned from it. I remember sometimes when I felt like I deserved something, and it wasn’t given to me, I was on the verge of anger or frustration or even tears because I felt helpless, I had done everything I could but I still wasn’t getting what I wanted. That’s part of being a professional, putting the last play behind you and moving on. This year when I face those things I’ll be prepared.

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

DH: What’s a phrase you say a lot?

THA: I say this in just the weirdest situations. I like to say “let the kids play!”. It started in college when the players who didn’t play much, on the days after games, would be so excited to play. Coming into last season when I wasn’t playing much, I always just wanted to get out there and play, and have fun, and show what I can do. So I’d say, “let the kids play.” Now I say it in any situation. If there’s a really good lunch buffet they’ve given us, “let the kids play!” (laughing) Doesn’t really make sense.

DH: Do you have huge goals you want to achieve?

THA: Actually I don’t with soccer. When I got recruited for soccer, Stanford wasn’t very good, they were ranked like 100th in the nation. I went to this prestigious private high school where people looked down on me for either my intelligence or my dedication to soccer. Then when I got into a very good school because of [soccer], I thought that was the end of it. I’ll go to Stanford, get a degree and a good job and show those people. Playing pro soccer is like the icing on the cake. My goal is to continue to prove people wrong. After my first year in pro soccer, I now have doubters. People have said I can’t do something, now I can prove to them that I can. I think I’ve always just wanted to be a really good dad. I want to push my kids to exhaustion. My kids have no choice, they have to play soccer.

DH: What if they are derpy and uncoordinated?

THA: I will force that out of them through exercise! (both laughing)

DH: You do well under pressure, clearly, you play professional soccer.

THA: My first game I started playing in front of 30,000 people was my best game ever because of the pressure. I like being the guy at the front of the sled and helping push it along. Even now being one of the younger people on the team I try to be a leader.

DH: What is the best gift you’ve ever been given, like a birthday or Christmas gift?

THA: My parents don’t give birthday or Christmas gifts. I feel like my parents love me so much and don’t get me presents. When someone does I’m like, “holy crap you love me.” My ex-girlfriend did that. I’ve only been in one relationship. She did so much, it wasn’t even a [specific] gift, it was her heart, every day.

DH: That’s so cute. :gives sappy look: (both start laughing)

I’m excited to see how Tomas brings his competitive personality and drive to the field. The Galaxy had a rough season defensively last year and I’ll be watching Hilliard-Arce to see how he can contribute to the back line.

Featured image: @LAGalaxy

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @GalaxySoccerMom

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

A Candid Conversation with Uriel Antuna

LA Galaxy Contributor

By Debbie Haar // @GalaxySoccerMom

After much anticipation, the L.A. Galaxy announced on January 29, 2019, a one-year loan deal with Manchester City for 21-year old Mexican International midfielder Uriel Antuna. Antuna signed a four-year contract with Manchester City in 2017, spending last season on loan with FC Groningen in the Netherlands. In November 2018, he was called up for the senior Mexican National Team for friendlies against Belgium and Poland but saw no play time.

I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to him just a few hours after his loan deal was officially announced by the Galaxy.

Debbie Haar: Welcome to L.A. How’s it feel to be here and with the Galaxy?

Uriel Antuna: Good. It’s very exciting.

DH: How have the practices been?

UA: Hard, but it needs to be that way. I’m used to them now.

DH: So, when did you start playing soccer?

UA: Probably age 3. My Dad loves futbol.

DH: What kind of kid were you?

UA: I talked a lot to my Mom. Sometimes I was a little crazy.

DH: What’s your Mom like?

UA: (big smile) She is crazy! (laughs) She used to bang on the drums in the stands during my games.

DH: Would you like if we said hi to your Mom in this article?

UA: Yes! (Hi Bertha, you did a good job Mom!)

DH: Do you get recognized in public?

UA: I did in the Netherlands.

DH: Did it feel like an invasion of privacy?

UA: No! I love the fans.

DH: Do you get homesick?

UA: I miss my family – this is futbol life.

DH: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

UA: I have two younger brothers age 16 and 12. My brother Kevin plays in Mexico.

DH: We heard about your Mom, what is your Dad like? What does he do?

UA: He is very proud and supportive. He delivers chips to stores for a living.

DH: If you weren’t a soccer player what career would you pursue?

UA: I don’t know, I always wanted to play soccer. I’d like to study. I’m good at math. You show me once and I know it.

DH: Are you superstitious or have any pregame rituals?

UA: I used to. I put my left sock on, then my right sock. Then my left shoe, then my right. But I stopped that.

DH: What’s your favorite thing to eat?

UA: I eat a lot! I like pizza and sushi.

DH: Question. Do you like pineapple on pizza?

UA: Yes.

DH: You’re awesome! On your days off do you wake up early or like to sleep in?

UA: I like to sleep.

DH: Do you drink coffee?

UA: Of course!

DH: What kind of coffee do you like?

UA: Caramel. I love caramel and I don’t like my coffee hot.

DH: Tell me something interesting most people don’t know about you.

UA: I gave up soda eight years ago. I only drink water, apple juice or orange juice. Sometimes sparkling water but not too much.

DH: I watched you score a hat trick in the CONCACAF U20 Championship game, you did some very impressive gymnastics after. Where did you learn to do flips like that?

UA: (laughs) I learned on my bed, then just started doing them on the field.

DH: Do you play video games?

UA: Of course! PlayStation, Call of Duty.

DH: What has been your achievement when it comes to soccer?

UA: Signing with Manchester City.

DH: Does it ever bother you when fans boo or get upset?

UA: No, you get used to it. We don’t want to lose either. I like when fans are fans through the good and bad.

DH: We’re all excited to watch you play. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

UA: Of course.

(Some communication was done via translation app)

L.A. is excited to see you on the field, Uriel. Welcome to the Galaxy.

Featured image: @LAGalaxy

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @GalaxySoccerMom

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale

Spotlight on LA Galaxy player: Matt Lampson

LA Galaxy Key Contributor

By Debbie Haar // @GalaxySoccerMom

On January 23 the LA Galaxy signed veteran goalkeeper Matt Lampson in the 2nd stage of the re-entry draft. During his seven seasons with MLS, the 29-year-old has played for Columbus Crew SC, Chicago Fire and Minnesota United FC. During his career, he has made 60 appearances, 194 saves and had 16 shutouts. He once admitted as a kid he wanted to be a goalie because he wanted the “cool gloves”. Goal achieved.

Although soccer is a huge part of his life, I wanted to know and share who Matt Lampson is off the soccer field.

Lampson is a two-time winner of MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year award for his work with cancer patients and survivors, most recently winning again in 2018. After donating blood during his senior year of high school he received the devastating news he had stage 4B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. He stated he never once thought about losing his battle with cancer.

We look forward to watching him bring that kind of motivating positivity to the soccer field. He sent out a celebratory tweet on September 24, 2018 stating he has been cancer free for 11 years. He also confessed that there is no doubt in his mind that if he didn’t have cancer he would not be a professional athlete.

In 2014, Matt Lampson founded the LampStrong Foundation, a non-profit with the mission of positively changing the lives of those battling cancer and encouraging survivors and their families to make the most of their second chance at life. After games, you may see him on the field, at both home and away games, with kids who are fighting or survived cancer and their families. Kudos to him for taking the time to inspire and motivate those who need it most.

Who doesn’t like doughnuts? Lampson is no different. The L.A. Galaxy now has it’s own “doughnut snob” and proud owner of an array of doughnut shirts. During an interview last year he took the time to describe the perfect old fashioned doughnut with well thought out phrases such as “texture of a crunch”, “delicately dense” and “velvety smooth on the inside”. He often plans doughnut shop counter takeovers and doughnut tours to raise money for his foundation. Doughnuts are not his only food favorite, he also is a self-proclaimed meat lover.

He has a thing for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He mixed his hobby of art and his fondness of the TMNT and drew impressive pictures of each turtle, painted them, then displayed them proudly on his walls. He has even been known to celebrate with TMNT birthday cakes. At one time he even had a turtle he affectionately called as his precious lil ninja Leonardo.

The fans look forward to seeing Matt Lampson bring his positivity and resilience to the field. Welcome to L.A., we look forward to watching you play!

Featured image: @LAGalaxy

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @GalaxySoccerMom

Check us out on Instagram @mlsfemale