This is the latest installment of We Are TFC. Every week, we’ll sit down with one of the Reds and help you get to know them a little bit better, on and off the field. This week, Devang Desai chats with defender Eriq Zavaleta. The Indiana product has become a key piece on the back line for the Reds. We hope you’ll enjoy this series and let us know which TFC players you’d like to see profiled in the future.
Taking a look at your phone – what picture means the most to you and why?
ZAVALETA: We went to a winery in Niagara and had a private tour. On one of the stops I had it setup that we would get a private room that you can see in the picture and that’s where I proposed.
How would people close to you describe you in one word?
ZAVALETA: I have a goofy personality. I like to have fun.
What’s your favourite pastime?
ZAVALETA: I’m a big sports fan.
Thoughts on the NBA Finals?
ZAVALETA: It was a really interesting series and a fun one to watch as a sort of neutral fan. I wanted to see LeBron win but at the same time both teams were playing at a really high level. It was a good display for the NBA and there were so many turning points in the series. It was fun to see it culminate with LeBron winning the title.
Who is your favourite Indiana Hoosier of all-time?
ZAVALETA: Probably Isiah Thomas.
Who is your favourite soccer player and why?
ZAVALETA: I’m struggling to try and stay away from the obvious here but it’s Lionel Messi. He’s a different type of player than anyone else in the world.
Did you try to mold your game after his?
ZAVALETA: He’s got an incredible vision of the game that I try and implement into my game. But he’s a dribbler and I’m obviously not. If there’s one player that I would and do try to mold my game after it’s Gerard Pique. He’s got a similar build and a similar story in that he also played forward growing up. He’s tall, lanky and likes to be on the ball and read the game. He’s someone that I strive to play like.
Who is the funniest player on the team?
ZAVALETA: We got a bunch of guys, which is a good thing. I’d probably go with Danny Lovitz.
We’ve had multiple votes for him..
ZAVALETA: The best part about Danny is that he doesn’t try to be funny. It’s just his personality. He’s got a lot of good one liners. When you’re not trying to be funny it somehow makes you funnier.
Do you have any quirks or superstitions before games?
ZAVALETA: I meditate before matches. I started this year with Josh Williams. He got me into it earlier this season. I’ve been meditating every day ever over the past five months.
Have you noticed a change?
ZAVALETA: It’s helped me focus in games and feel more tuned in throughout 90 minutes.
ZAVALETA: Shawshank Redemption.
Favourite music artist?
ZAVALETA: My music taste has changed a lot over the years. When I was in college I loved country. I like hip-hop, I like folk. I would say I’m a big fan of Kygo.
During the off-season how are you killing time?
ZAVALETA: I usually head back to Indianapolis and spend a few weeks with my family. I’ve been running a camp in the off-season at my Dad’s indoor facility. It’s a good time for me give back to the community that raised me and spend time with my Dad at the same time, who taught me pretty much everything I know about the game.
Your Dad was also a professional soccer player. What wisdom did he share with you?
ZAVALETA: My Dad is a thinker. The biggest thing for me that I always remember was that when I finished games, no matter how well or poorly I played, we would always talk about what I could do better and to this day that’s how it is. At the time it agitated me because I could score three or four goals and he would tell me what I didn’t do right. Now I understand that it helped me become the player I am today.
Still talk to him after games?
ZAVALETA: Every game for about 30 to 40 minutes.
If you weren’t a soccer player what would you be doing?
ZAVALETA: I want to say I would be a lawyer. I know how much work that is and how much reading that is but I want to say that’s what I would do.
What’s been your favourite moment with TFC thus far?
ZAVALETA: I would say it was the end of the year last year, when we clinched a playoff spot. That moment with the fans that they’ve never had before and that we’ve never had before. It was a special one.
What about your goal vs. Seattle last year, getting one against your former club?
ZAVALETA: Definitely. It was a big moment for me for obvious reasons, but to go back to a place where I started my career and do it against a team that sort of gave up on me in essence was sweet.
Who are your heroes?
ZAVALETA: My Dad is one of them. Let’s just stick with that [laughs].
What’s it like playing for Greg Vanney?
ZAVALETA: Because I have a history of playing for him before we’ve done a pretty good job of things not feeling any different. He’s a very good coach and he’s helped me a lot. I think if you asked the guys around the locker room if they didn’t know about our familial ties they would never know but I really enjoy playing for him. He’s a guy that really understands the game.
When I say ‘Toronto’ what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
ZAVALETA: Drake [laughs].
I feel like Drake is played quite a bit in the locker room…
ZAVALETA: Every other song played is by him [laughs], but the good thing is he produces incredible songs so it’s not so bad.
What is your ultimate goal in life?
ZAVALETA: To be a good person, to be a good husband and to be a good father eventually. That’s my ultimate goal in life.
Let us know who you would like to see featured in the next We Are TFC!