On this week’s edition of We Are TFC II, we sit down with defender Lars Eckenrode.
What has been your favourite moment in your soccer career thus far?
Eckenrode: Signing my first pro contract with Toronto FC II.
At what moment did you know you could go pro?
Eckenrode: Playing in a tournament in Amsterdam I could gauge myself against some of the world’s best when I was 15. That’s when I realized I had a real shot.
Do you have an interesting Draft Day Story?
Eckenrode: I was with my brother and a friend of ours. We had been training consistently at this park by our house. The first day passed and I didn’t get selected but I kept a positive attitude. So, we went out to train right when the draft was starting. I told my brother I’ll put my phone away and just go train and hopefully I’ll come back to good news. Two hours later I come back to my phone with a bunch of missed calls and congratulatory text messages. I actually missed a call from Tim Bezbatchenko… called him back immediately.
Do you have a coach/mentor that has impacted your soccer career?
Eckenrode: David Camara (Arlington Soccer Association). He taught me to be comfortable with the ball and truly love and enjoy playing the game.
A player you like to model your game after?
Eckenrode: Gary Cahill. He is a simple centre back, great on the ball and a TANK.
Taking a quick look at your phone, which photo in it means the most to you?
Eckenrode: Photo of me and my Mom after a game for Michigan. Seeing her always makes me so happy.
What was your experience at Michigan like?
Eckenrode: It was an amazing three and a half years…from the soccer side of things, it was incredible. Some great facilities and I made some lifelong friends along the way. From the academic side, it’s an amazing school and to be able to be a part of that was truly incredible.
Have any good Michigan/Ohio State stories?
Eckenrode: I don’t have any good ones, unfortunately. A couple of heart breaking ones. [In] senior year, Friday night, Halloween. It was at our place. It was tied late into double overtime. Their forward, who transferred from Michigan to OSU, came in on a break and slipped it through my legs and it slots in. So, sad to say I don’t have any good stories.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Eckenrode: Reading, eating, stretching, eating, listening to podcasts, eating, and then eating. Also, enjoy a lot of movies!
Go to cheat meal?
Eckenrode: I haven’t found a good spot here in Toronto. But buffalo wings are a massive weakness of mine.
What are you currently watching on Netflix?
Eckenrode: I just started a Netflix original called “The Mist.” It’s based off a Stephen King novel. It’s pretty dark. I don’t usually watch shows, I prefer the conciseness of a movie.
All-time favourite movie?
Eckenrode: American Sniper.
Eckenrode: DJ Snake or Luke Bryan
How have you found the adjustment to life in Toronto/Canada?
Eckenrode: A very easy transition. Everyone has been so welcoming and friendly.
What do you miss the most about home?
Eckenrode: My friends back at school in Ann Arbor and mostly my family back in Virginia.
What was the soccer scene like back home?
Eckenrode: Very competitive and focused on technique and development. I haven’t noticed much of a difference between it and Canada.
Can you take us through your journey back from your injury this season?
Eckenrode: It was a long journey. A long recovery journey that I hadn’t experienced before. I had never been out that long. It was definitely a challenge. It was probably one of the harder things I’ve had to do. Being in a new city, a completely new environment. Getting through it by myself...I think it ended up being very beneficial for me. Without suffering you can’t really grow.
If you weren’t playing soccer, what would you be doing?
Eckenrode: Imagining my life without soccer is tough… I’ve always had an affinity towards the military. That’s been a career that is extremely interesting to me. Something I might go into later down the road. So, if I wasn’t playing I'd be in some branch of the military.
Any other interesting facts about yourself?
Eckenrode: I’m a dual citizen [German]. I speak the language fluently. My mom is German and my dad is Peruvian.