BRIAN SCIARETTA - Tuesday, August 3, 2010
With most Bundesliga clubs currently in their final preseason preparations for the 2010/2011 season, Freiburg's American defender Danny Williams is looking to use these games to establish himself within the team.
Williams, 21, emerged in the second half of last season with Freiburg after his coach, Robin Dutt, converted him from defensive midfielder to right back.
During the past few weeks of Freiburg's preseason, the versatile Williams has been undergoing another positional switch from right back to left back.
"Right now, at this moment I am playing left back," Williams told YA from Germany. "The coach has been changing me. Sometimes I am playing right back. Against Werder Bremen I played left back in the other game I played right back. It changes."
Williams' move across the backline paid initial dividends last week for Freiburg when they traveled to Switzerland to play Swiss club FC Wil in a preseason friendly for both teams.
In the 80th minute, Williams was able to collect the ball from his position on the left, dribble towards the center of the field and fire an unstoppable driving shot from 25 yards out into the top corner of the goal to give Freiburg a 2-0 lead.
Williams is not yet at the point where he prefers playing on the left as opposed to the right but he does see the advantages.
"I don't think I like left back better," Williams analyzed. "When I play left back I can turn better into the middle because I am stronger with my right foot. I can turn into the field and shoot. It is how I scored against Wil when I was playing left back."
During this preseason Williams has also found himself in the middle of a contract dispute with Freiburg.
While he is still under contract for the next two seasons with the club located in southwest Germany, the club has wanted to extend his contract.
"It's still undecided because they offered me a new contract until 2013," Williams discussed. "But there was a problem because, I thought that the offer they made wasn't [good]. So I said that I didn't want to sign yet. But my manager and the manager from the club are talking. I hope they can find a solution for this problem."
Williams hopes to put this matter behind him quickly as the club prepares for their opening Bundesliga home game against St Pauli on August 21.
The dispute has not dampened Williams' enthusiasm for the upcoming season. Last season he did not emerge until the winter break as the club narrowly escaped relegation by finishing in 14th place out of the 18 team league.
This season he hopes to contribute from the very beginning.
"Personally for me I want to play as much as possible," Williams said of his goals for this season. "Maybe around 20 games or something around that. That would be very good for me. For the team, I hope we can stay in the first division. I think that is the goal for everybody on the team. For me personally, I just want to play as much as I can."
"I cannot say that the team is better than the team from last year because we are in preseason," he continued. "But I think we have a very good spirit in the team. I am happy to play with this team. Everybody is very, very nice. I am very much looking forward to the next season."
For his future in international soccer, Williams is eligible for Germany and the US once he gets his American passport.
He currently still only has his German passport but is eligible for a US passport through his American father who settled in Germany upon his completion of service in the US military.
The short offseason did not give Williams the chance to go through the process of getting his passport but he hopes to get the passport during the winter break once both he and his father have time to go to the consulate.
"I am still working on the passport," Williams said of the issue. "When I was on holiday, I was in Mallorca for one week but then my father was busy also because he has to work. Whenever I was going to my parent's house, it was only on Saturdays or Sundays when I was free. Then it's a little bit difficult for us to travel to Frankfurt to the consulate to go through the process."
"When I have time, I think in the winter when I have a holiday [break] again I will go to Frankfurt with my dad to ask for the passport," he continued.
Williams is still very much open to the idea of playing for the US national team in the future once he gets his passport.
He watched the team play in the World Cup this past summer with great interest. Williams came away both happy with their success and impressed with their talent.
"Yes, of course I wanted them to do well," Williams exclaimed. "I watched every one of their games with my dad. I have to say they played very well. I saw that some players like Altidore and Michael Bradley from [Borussia Monchengladbach] are very, very good players - also Donovan of course. It was great to see how they played."
After watching his native Germany finish in third place following impressive wins over England and Argentina, Williams acknowledged that Germany is a better team but he envisions the US national team having similar success in the near future.
"I think with Germany, the quality is a little bit higher," Williams admitted. "But the US team I think in a few years could also play toward fourth place or the semifinals. I think that the US team is very good."
Williams is hopeful that any future success of the US national team will include him. With an aging defense, more American defenders will have to emerge and Williams hopes to earn regular playing time this season in the Bundesliga.
Williams knows that he has to get his passport before he can become eligible for the US national team but he has yet to hear from US Soccer. He hopes that changes this season if earns regular playing time with Freiburg.
"Hopefully, I get a call."