Thursday, November 19, 2009
It took us a while, but we've been able to track down Kaiserlautern 'keeper Luis Robles and drop your Best XI questions on his lap.

I) Has being a goal keeper for the US been a blessing or a challenge in light of how many quality keepers it produces?

- Bryan Dunham, Wichita, Kansas

I think for any professional goalkeeper, it's always a personal goal to represent your country. The privilege is only extended to a small percentage of keepers, so when the opportunity comes, it can only be counted as a blessing.

It is a goal of mine to represent my country at the highest possible level. Whether it be sooner or later, only time will tell, but I mostly definitely want to be wearing the Red, White and Blue at the World Cup.

II) Outside of soccer, what do you like best about living in Germany?

- Seth Lindenfelser, St. Paul, Minnesota

I most enjoy the adventure. Living in Germany has allowed me to experience a different culture, where there is a lot of change. The people, the food, the mentality, the government structure - the taxes!! -- they are all part of what has been an incredible journey.

With that being said, my integration to Germany has been gradual because of the large American presence in the area due to the military bases.

III) What's it like playing in Germany in a town with so many Americans? I went downtown every now and then and Americans tend to stand out like a sore thumb; have you experienced that while there? Have you had a chance to connect with the service members that serve in and around Kaiserslautern? If not, have you considered it?

- JR Tolleson, Tucson, Arizona

The military bases have been very helpful to my integration to Europe. Even more helpful considering that I got married a few months ago. My wife has the privilege to integrate slowly instead of being thrown into a completely different scene.

I really enjoy having the base because it has allowed me to make a lot of new friends, but, because of the large American influence my German-speaking skills took a little longer to develop. Another helpful thing about having so many Americans around is that I have been able to attend English-speaking church services.

Church was a huge part of my life in American and before I left I wondered how I would be able to continue. It has been a huge blessing to attend church and worship with other American believers. As far as any direct relation to the base, I enjoy going to the high school on Vogelweh and spending some time with special needs children. My favorite activity to participate with them is going to the bowling alley and rolling a few frames with them.

IV) Which American professional soccer players to you text, Facebook or email with on a weekly basis?

- Bill Newhouse, Rockville, Maryland

To be honest, I don't Facebook that often but I am friends with a few of the guys from the team. The person that I have most contact with is a Canadian player named Josh Simpson. We both played at the University of Portland, and later together here at Kaiserslautern.

However he has changed clubs and is now in Turkey but we stay in daily contact. Every once in awhile I contact Kenny Cooper down at 1860 Munich. A month ago we went to Oktoberfest together. Good times.

V) How has Kaiserslautern helped you develop?

- Robert Smith, St. Louis, Missouri

Being in a professional environment everyday from the beginning it was what initially caused the most development.

After that, I would have to credit our coaching staff. They are always available to extra activities, whether it's taking extra shots, working on technique or hitting the weights. They make it a priority to offer their players the time they need to improve areas of their game.

Also just being in an environment where there is a little pressure to succeed. Because we have such a big name in Germany, there is an expectation to succeed weekly and get back to the first league.

VI) Fans and journalists always seem to judge players based on their inclusion and/or consideration for national team duty. As a player, how important is it to you, when making career decisions, factors such as national team consideration?

- Drew Porter, Mobile, Alabama

This question caught me at an interesting time. Especially since this is the last year of my contract here at FCK and I am not seeing playing time. After participating with the national team this past summer, it is my desire to be involved more often in the future. However, the only way this is possible is if I am performing for my club.

Since I want to be performing for the national team, I have to do what is possible to put myself in a position to see consistent playing time. As my agent and I begin to look at the options for the future, the national team will always be in the back of my mind.

VII) Do you feel that your inclusion on the Gold Cup roster has cost you a chance to play with your club team this season? How has your experience on that team helped your development as a player?

- Scott O'Connor, Bend, Oregon

It's hard to say. My gut tells me that if I would have skipped the Gold Cup and gone back to training camp, then I would be the No. 1 at my club. But it is also hard to discredit my inclusion on the Gold Cup roster, because the coaches gave me a chance to make my national team debut, which is really special to me.

It was a tough call, and if I had to make it again I don't know which way I would go. However, I would say that my overall experience with the national team this past year has opened my eyes to a different level of soccer.

It gave me a glimpse of seeing what I need to improve on in order to be at the level consistently. Just training every day with Tim Howard and seeing how he does things was an experience that has impacted me as a professional.

VIII) How are you handling the new coach at Kaiserslautern and returning to the backup role? What are you doing to return to the number 1 spot?

- Zak Williams, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

At the beginning when I arrived late from the national team I have to admit that my relationship with the coach was obsolete. Considering the position that I put him in by arriving late, and now he has to choose between two good goalkeepers, we definitely were not best buds. However, since he has gotten to know me and see me train on a daily basis, our relationship is great.

I really admire the way he is able to manage players with a certain level of discipline, yet be approachable to talk about things outside of soccer. Every day I am trying to improve my game whether it's staying after and working on technique or hitting the gym to improve physically.

I don't want to remain the back-up. I don't ever want to develop a back-up mentality. After getting a taste of professional soccer last year, I am hungry for more and the only way I can reach my goals is to work harder and stay focused.

IX) I've been a big follower of yours ever since I saw you between the sticks at Portland. I knew your future was bright. I've been lucky to stream most of your games at FCK and I'm astounded by your vertical. Is it something that is natural or something you've worked on?

- Michael Vann, Lexington, Kentucky

It's mixture of both. Part of it is natural, ever since I was young I have been able to jump high. But the other part is figuring out how to jump higher and quicker.

Some of our goalkeeper training helps me maintain that, but I do some work on my own. I like to use a weighted vest when I do some drills. This helps with quickness as well as strength. Also I like to do box jumps, which is basically stacking boxes and trying to land on top.

XX) Okay, silly question - but is your name pronounced Row-Bulls or Robe-Less?

- John Coleman, Fairfax, Virginia

It's Spanish, so actually more like Rrrobe-less.

XI) What was a more exciting event for you over the summer: getting your first cap for the US National Team, or getting to be a part of the Confederations Cup team that had the victory over Spain in the semifinals?

- Jerry Griffen, Phoenix, Arizona

Actually the most exciting thing that happened to me this past summer was nothing soccer related. I got married at the beginning of June and had to fit the wedding in between all the National Team activities.

It was hectic, but the ceremony was beautiful and the reception was a blast. We had to cancel the honeymoon because the day after I flew out to South Africa to join the team. My wife was bummed, but it would have been crazy to turn down that trip especially after how amazing we did!

To answer your question, it's tough to choose. The Confederations Cup was exciting because the quality of opposition, the location, and how well we did. But for my own career, getting my first cap was really special especially since my family was there as well as some of my closest friends.

However, as exciting as getting my first cap was, I can't recall a time in my life that I had ever been that nervous. With that being said, next time around the butterflies are gone and I know I will be more confident and just play my game.

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