Sebastian Miranda is only the third Chilean player to don a Black & Gold jersey. Miranda joins the Crew following a successful career with Union Española and Universidad Católica of the Chilean first division. We had a chance to sit down with the Crew defender as he talks about what brought him to Columbus, his soccer idols and how he’s acclimating to the United States.
Crew Communications: Why did you decide to come to the United States after such a long successful career in Chile?
Sebastian Miranda: I wanted a change in my life, I was very comfortable with my team in Chile but I was looking for new objectives and projects and the United States option seemed attractive. I knew about the Crew and the offer they made me was very interesting which made the decision to come much easier.
CC: What did you know about soccer in the U.S. and of the Crew?
SM: I always liked soccer in the United States. I followed through the years watching games on television and know various teams. It is a league that has grown a lot and will continue to grow and I have no doubt that it will become one of the top leagues in the world.
I am very good friends with Sebastian Rozental, who played here in 2006, and I also know Marcos Gonzalez who played with the Crew in 2006 and 2007. Both of them told me very good things about the team, the city and the organization.
CC: How did the Crew find you?
SM: The coaching staff came to see a match I was playing in. Incidentally my contract with Union Espanola was expiring at the end of December 2010 and the Crew needed a Right-Back. The Crew got in touch with my representatives and thank God everything went well and I was able to come here.
CC: Was this your first time in the United States?
SM: I had come here on vacation before but only to Orlando and Miami. I never came to play.
CC: You’ve had the opportunity to see a little bit more of the United States now, what is your impression of this country, and Columbus, was it what you expected?
SM: The whole world has in opinion of how the U.S. is. The country is always in the news; we know it is the land of opportunity and I had a similar idea of what this country was. I feel I am in a country that is very safe and where the customs are very similar to the ones in Chile. As for Columbus, aside from the cold weather, it seems to be a very calm, safe and family oriented city and this also factored in my decision to come play here. It is a place where the three of us [with my wife and son] can enjoy the tranquility and safety of the city.
CC: Have you had a chance to visit Columbus since you came here?
SM: I have not had a chance to go out much because I have a nine-month-old son and the weather has not been very good to take him out. As soon as it warms up I plan to take him around and discover Columbus with him.
CC: When you came here in January, how were you greeted by your teammates, the staff and the fans?
SM: Very well. I have always said that ever since the first day I was here everyone has made me feel at home, very comfortable. They helped me with everything I needed and my transition was a lot easier than what I expected. The players, the coaches, the staff have been extremely helpful and make an effort to communicate with me as I with them. I have also felt the warmth of the fans when we played the few games we did at home and this gives me a lot more reason to do well on the field.
CC: One of the most important things for the Crew is to work with the community. How important is it for soccer players and to you in particular to have that kind of contact with the fans and children who are playing soccer out there?
SM: I like it very much, I can’t speak for other soccer players but for me it is very important. I like to share my experiences with people and especially I like to go out and teach children. When I was a child I always looked out for the soccer players I admired. As captain of my team last year I was reaching out to children quite a bit and I look forward to being out in the community here too.
CC: Soccer fans are very different in Chile, and in Latin America in general, than they are here in the States. What are your impressions of American soccer fans?
SM: The fundamental difference is that the fans here are more respectful of the game, the players and their adversaries. In Latin America fans go to the stadium to let go of their everyday problems whereas I think that soccer fans come to games here to enjoy the game and the show.
CC: Who are your soccer idols?
SM: I never really identified myself with only one player. As far as my position goes I think [Javier] Zanetti is an incredible player. His experience, the years he’s been playing at such a high level and for such a great team [Inter Milan] are to be admired. I also think Ronaldo and Zidane were great players for everything they gave to the game and children should be able to learn from such great players.
CC: What is the most important match you ever played in your career?
SM: I can’t really single out one match, last year in Chile was very good. I felt at ease with my teammates and we made it all the way to the championship match. More than single games, it’s the seasons that I am most proud of, 2009 was great for us as we returned to play in an important international tournament like the Copa Sudamericana [the CONMEBOL equivalent to UEFA’s Europa League, ndr.], we had a great group of players so it was a very good year. The same goes for 2004, a very positive year for both Union Española and also for me personally.
CC: You helped Union Española qualify for the Copa Libertadores this past season and immediately signed with the Crew. Is it difficult for you not to play in such a prestigious tournament?
SM: Ever player strives to play in the [Copa] Libertadores. I was lucky enough to play in it once in 2006 as well as other tournaments. It was not an easy decision to leave after qualifying but as I said before I wanted to start a new chapter in my life.
CC: What advice would you give young people who want to become soccer players?
SM: Be consistent in what you want. Consistency in soccer is extremely important. You can be the most talented player in the world but if you are not consistent in what you desire and in your beliefs you will not achieve what you want. Especially when you are young you have to make many sacrifices and are not able to do the things your peers are doing so you have to know exactly what you want and pursue it.
CC: How do you see the Chilean National team now and do you dream of playing for your country?
SM: It’s always a dream. It’s a dream that is far right now, I’ve had some very good years but I think today Chile has a very good group of players. Obviously every player has the dream of representing his country but right now I don’t see it happening. One of the Chilean national team’s virtues is it’s a young, talented team. The majority of the players played in the U-20 World Cups in Holland and Canada so they now are 24 or 25 years-old. They already have the experience of one World Cup [South Africa 2010] under their belt and I am sure that if Chile follows this path we will see more surprises in the future.