Eli Galbraith-Knapp of the San Diego Sockers
GOALNATION SOCCER NEWS INTERVIEW EXCLUSIVE
The San Diego Sockers are America’s Finest City’s professional soccer team and play fast-paced indoor soccer in the Valley View Casino Center — great for sports fans and families alike, going to a Sockers game is a great night of entertainment. And, for youth soccer players, watching the Sockers pass the ball, score goals and defend their quest for their 15th National Championship is not only fun, it is a great learning experience.
For the 2017/18 Major Arena Soccer League season, GOALNATION will be bringing you all the best in coverage of the San Diego Sockers. Our exclusive interview series will bring you inside the minds of players, coaches, and management, as the Sockers begin the hunt for their 15th championship, the home opener taking place on Sunday, November 5th at 5:05 PM.
First up in the series, it’s San Diego native, former USD Torrero, and current Sockers Defender Eli Galbraith-Knapp.
GOALNATION: Eli, tell us about the final pre-season game of the season, a fantastic 8-5 win for you and the Sockers on the road against the Ontario Fury.
Eli Galbraith-Knapp: It was a good performance from the guys. We got the win, and that’s what truly matters. I played in the 3rd and 4th quarters. It was big for me as it was my first actual match, indoor or outdoor, in almost five months after my knee injury. I guess you could say it was a bit of trial by fire for me.
As a team, I was really impressed by the way we played. Our style was one that got everyone involved. It looked clean and crisp. It was an interesting perspective watching the opening half from the bench and then getting into the thick of it in the second half. There is only one goal for this team, and that’s winning a championship. I think every team says that in pre-season. But when you get out there and play a game and get a strong team win the way we did, it’s huge. We really feel like it could be our year.
GOAL NATION: Tell us a little more about your decision to come back to the Sockers for another season, your third with the team.
Eli Galbraith-Knapp: I grew up a San Diego Sockers fan. I had my 9th birthday party at a Sockers game. This thing goes way back for me. I hold the club, that badge, the brand, and everything about the Sockers in such high regards. I have the utmost respect for everyone that has been involved with the Sockers over the years, down to every last fan, player, coach, and everyone behind the scenes. The team is a huge part of the soccer culture and history in San Diego. It’s the only indoor team I would play for.
It’s amazing to see life come full circle.
It’s a dream come true to wear that Sockers uniform. When I was offered the chance to suit up for another MASL season, it was a no-brainer.
GOALNATION: What are you most excited for this season?
Eli Galbraith-Knapp: Collectively, first and foremost, I’m excited to compete for an MASL championship. That puts all the personal goals in a completely different category. These guys are hungry, and I’m stoked to be a part of the hunt for the 15th title in franchise history. I’ve never actually won a true championship. There was some great conference stuff in college at USD, but as a footballer, I’ve never actually tasted the real thing, that feeling of lifting the trophy and getting a ring. With the group we’ve got, there’s a strong possibility of success. I’m also very excited and feeling very positive about my own game.
It’s my fourth year in the league and my third with the Sockers. With my injury in June and the subsequent surgery, I had some time away from the game. I think it was really a blessing in a way. That time helped me find myself, separating me from soccer while also giving me a newfound drive for the game.
I feel sharper mentally than I ever have, and I’m also feeling very good physically. I want to play as many minutes as possible. Any guy on the team would say the same.
Our collective goal stands above all else.
I’m excited to help bring a championship back to San Diego.
GOALNATION: You’re a local guy, and there’s quite a bit of local talent within the Sockers ranks. What does that aspect mean to you?
Eli Galbraith-Knapp: It’s such a huge part of the success of this team, that pool of talent from right here in San Diego. It’s kind of ridiculous.
There aren’t many other places that can boast local talent like we can.
The word I always come back to is Nomads, the club I played for as a kid. Nomads taught me about culture and the way the game is supposed to be played. That kind of education, learning about all the little things, the work ethic it took to be a professional, thinking beyond the field, and so much more, the foundation was laid with Nomads.
I think of all the other San Diego success stories that are connected to Nomads and the great Derek Armstrong, who has been the DOC for decades. Marcelo Balboa, Eric Wynalda, Frankie Hejduk, Steve Cherundolo, the list goes on. Every time I step foot on the pitch for the Sockers, I’m benefiting from the education I got from Nomads.
GOALNATION: Lastly Eli, take a moment to speak directly to the fans of the Sockers. What does it mean to have that atmosphere behind you at the Valley View Casino Center?
Eli Galbraith-Knapp: Wow, it’s hard to describe. It’s a rush.
Indoor soccer is its own beast.
Everything is right on top of you and you’re completely enclosed. The sport itself has a unique atmosphere element attached at all times. Locally, having kids I’ve coached and family and friends there in attendance, that rush that I get is priceless. When that place comes alive, there’s nothing like it. It feels like every fan is a part of the family.
Those games last year when we had those crowds of 7 thousand plus, that was when we really got rolling as a team. We developed a pretty solid home field advantage and carved out something special.
It was incredible to have the city and the county behind us.
So, for you Sockers fans reading this, you need to know just how much of a difference you actually make.
Having the arena full and having that wild, party-like atmosphere, it makes a massive difference for us. It gives us that extra little boost that we need to do the job. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, that job is bringing home the MASL Championship.