Thursday, September 19, 2013

INTERVIEW: Peru's Number 1 Still Learning His Craft

Raul 'Superman' Fernandez looks forward to tough task in Metropolis

Peruvian National 'keeper speaks exclusively to FootballGeezer

Raul Fernandez has enjoyed the sceneries that his football life has taken him from his hometown in Peru to France and to the U.S. He points to the passionate atmospheres of Seattle, Portland and Kansas City and is at peace with his family in Texas. 

But this weekend, as he descends upon the New York metro area for his first MLS match here against the New York Red Bulls, the FC Dallas goalkeeper is pure business and speaks of the need for three vital points.

"We're looking forward to playing against a top team but, truth be told, the pressure's on them, as they're at home," Fernandez, 27, said in a phone interview with FootballGeezer. "For me personally, it's going to be fun since it'll be my first time (at Red Bull Arena) and both teams will be fighting for a win. It'll be an attractive match."

The Peruvian international, who signed with Dallas from Nice in France in January, said he didn't think twice about coming to MLS when he heard of the opportunity and was happy to see firsthand its stature of a growing league.

"I was pleasantly surprised by its physical aspect," he added. "There is much to say about this league and more and more people will be talking about it because it's very competitive."

After being named an MLS All-Star this past summer, Fernandez soaked it all in, even having his pictures taken with Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan before the game against Roma.

"The All-Star game was a new experience for me, which I enjoyed immensely," Fernandez said. "It was such a positive experience to be on the field with players of that quality but it was a personal motivation for me to strive and be there again next year."

Aside from the All-Star festivities, Fernandez touched on the playoff system here but was generally humble about it.

 "Truth is, one needs to adapt overall to any changes or customs that every country has," he reflected. "I had culture shock in France and it was very rough in the beginning but once you accustom yourself, everything works out on its own."

Is he now a full-fledged Texan then?

"Well, I'm very happy here and I hope to stay for years," Fernandez added. "We're in a family-oriented environment and my family is at peace here. To me, that's first and everything else is second."

But Fernandez realizes everything isn't etched in stone. The goalkeeper strives to fight for his place every week and said he wants to continuously impress his manager. He takes it game-by-game but his near-term goal is to help Dallas get into the playoffs.

"As I've learned my whole life, no one is assured of their position," Fernandez said. "I work and train hard all the time whether it's with Dallas or the National team."

But with a long-offseason that most players around the globe aren't accustomed to, Fernandez is asked whether or not he'd consider a loan move after this year's campaign ends.

"That's something I actually haven't thought about," he paused. "But, yes, of course I'd like to have continuity so I can't rule it out. Obviously, that's something that has to be worked out. However, my objective right now is this season and that's to be a champion. After that, we'll see."

- Freddy Sebastian

FC Dallas at New York Red Bulls,
Red Bull Arena
Harrison, N.J.
Sunday, Sept. 22 5pm ET

©FootballGeezer, Freddy Sebastian 09192013

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