Matt Walker is one of the brightest young stars in the Columbus Crew organization. A true homegrown talent that played with the team’s academy, had an incredibly successful collegiate career, and then signed with the first team this winter.
Walker represents a true success story within the MLS Homegrown Player program, someone who has been involved with an MLS team early on and has moved up through the ranks.
The Dayton Dutch Lions are lucky to have this talented midfielder available to them this season. This is a player that accumulated 76 appearances during his four years at Xavier, registering 26 goals and 24 assists. A true playmaker, Walker tallied in the double-digits in goals and assists during his junior year with the Musketeers.
The Cincinnati native has already appeared in three matches for Dayton, logging 168 minutes. There is no question that Walker has brought another level of quality to the Dutch Lions and he is sure to make an impact there and in Columbus in the very near future. For those lucky enough to see the Dutch Lions play this season, you are truly watching a star in the making!
1. How has the opportunity to play with Dayton helped your development as a player?
Being a first-year player in the league, I think the most important thing for my development was to get quality games on a regular basis, and that is exactly what I am getting while playing with Dayton.
2. What do you think of the quality of play in USL PRO?
I have been happy with the level of the USL PRO. Every game has been extremely competitive thus far, which is great because you want to be tested every time you step on the field.
3. What have the Crew players brought to the Dutch Lions organization this season?
I think that the Crew players have brought some additional experience, leadership, and quality to the Dutch Lions organization this season. We all want to play well and make an impact on the field (both for Columbus and Dayton) so I think we bring a desire to be successful and to win games for the club and each other.
4. What has it been like to been a Homegrown Player? How does this program help young, promising players? What does this mean to the future of the league?
Being a Homegrown Player has been amazing and I believe this program provides young players a platform to be successful. The transition from college to the MLS can be difficult, but this program and the support that comes with it can make the transition that much easier. As for the future of the league, I think the Homegrown program provides teams with another way to identify and sign young talent who can develop into some of the better players in the league.
5. How did your time at Xavier help prepare you to become a professional?
My time at Xavier University helped to prepare me to become a professional because it taught me a lot about facing diversity and continuously looking for ways to get “that much” better. The coaching staff at Xavier are a motivated group and work hard to challenge their players everyday at training, and I think it was that focus that helped me to mature physically and mentally into the player I want to be.
6. How did playing for the Crew Academy help develop you as a player?
Playing for the Crew Academy was instrumental in my development because it put me in a professional environment that I just didn’t have access to before that.
Prior to playing in the Academy, I was playing my soccer at a small high school and club in Cincinnati and it was difficult to get a consistent level of play that you need to grow. Switching over to the Academy at 17 was one of the best decisions I’ve made and my time there has played a huge part in making me the player I am today.
7. What personal goals do you have for this season?
As for my goals of the season, I really just want to focus on the here and now. I want to continue to grow as a player and help the team win as many games as possible while I am here in Dayton. I came to Dayton to develop my game and I want to come back to Columbus an improved player ready to help in any way I can.
8. Who is your favorite to win the World Cup? What player is going to be the star of the tournament?
I really think that Brazil or Argentina are going to win the World Cup this time around. Germany could also be there in the end but aren’t they always one of the favorites. When it comes to player of the tournament I think the obvious choice is Ronaldo, but if Messi is healthy I could see Argentina doing some damage. So for the sake of the “best player in the world” argument, I’m going with Messi!
9. What player did you look up to as a youth? What player would you compare yourself to today?
I always looked up to Zidane and how easy he made the game look. As for today, I am a huge fan of Andres Iniesta but I wouldn’t go as far as to compare myself to him! His control on the ball is unbelievable and his ability to play-make is second to none. If there is anyone I try/want to play like, it would have to be him.
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