Danny Waltman is enjoying a standout first season in MISL as a rookie goalkeeper for the Chicago Storm. For the season, Waltman is now 12-10 with a 5.16 gaa. He ranks third in the league in wins, and is third with 270 saves. The native of Gig Harbor, WA, has also been named Goalkeeper of the Week twice this season.
Waltman joined the Storm after playing one season as back-up goalkeeper for the A-League Seattle Sounders. The University of Washington graduate had a successful collegiate career, earning second team All-Pac-10 honors his junior year. In 2002 he led the Pac-10 conference in saves per game with five, and had a 1.62 goals against average.
JC: A lot of people aren't that familiar with you or MISL - if you could just fill us in a little on your background, where you come from and how you got here?
DW: I grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and grew up watching the Tacoma Stars which was the indoor team back then. They used to play to sellout crowds and that was really my first love of soccer. I grew up playing outdoors and went to the University of Washington, played there and then played for a year professionally with the Seattle Sounders last year.Then I got a chance to come to Chicago and I was definitely all over that.
JC: You've just finished training this morning, what would you say are the differences between training for indoor versus outdoor soccer?
DW: It's kind of the same. We do a lot of posession work with the ball which is similar to outdoors.We definitely work a lot more set plays and power plays and more of a half-court offense. We have more patterned runs, just so we know where guys are going to be. You don't really have set patterns in outdoors so we have to practice those a lot - we've also got to learn to work the boards for indoor.
JC: Now as a goalkeeper you have a lot more action in an indoor game - do you prefer that? does it get boring as an outdoor goalie?
DW: Oh definitely. Outdoors you maybe get a goal kick here or there - but indoors whether you're on offense or defense you're always involved, you have the ball at your feet a lot. You've got to keep ready since you know you'll get 20 to 25 touches a game and if you're on and stopping everything, your team always has a chance to win.
JC: You were recently named Goalkeeper of the Week in MISL - if you had to name the best goalkeeper in MISL not including yourself who would you say?
DW: I'd have to say of all the teams I've faced, Peter Pappas of Philadelphia is outstanding. He's just unbelievable, he always seems to know where to be. Nick Vorberg of Milwaukee is also an incredible goalkeeper as well.
JC: What do you think of the Lindsay Kennedy situation? (MISL's first female player who signed last week with the St. Louis Steamers)
DW: I think it's great - she played a shift the other night. I think attendance was up from 9,000 to 14,000 just to watch her play. Maybe we should sign a female player too. [Laughs]
JC: Ok, here we go with your 10 Burning Questions. First question, do you ever get recognized in Chicago or anywhere else for that matter?
DW: [Laughs] Absolutely not - although some people have said that I look like Justin from American Idol. But that's about it.
JC: Do people believe you when you tell them that you're a pro athlete?
DW: [Laughs] Umm...yes, for the most part.
JC: If you were making a choice who would you choose Jennifer Anniston or Angelina Jolie?
DW: Oh definitely Angelina Jolie. Angelina's just hot.
JC: I watched the movie 'Hitch' last week, have you seen that?
DW: No haven't seen it yet
JC: Do you know the premise of the movie? Will Smith plays a date doctor - have you ever needed one or are you a ladies' man?
DW: [Laughs] I think I've been able to handle it on my own for the most part, although with some girls maybe it would have helped.
JC: Are you a member of the 'Luke Schenscher has a posse' fan base? Are you aware of who he is?
DW: [Laughs] I don't even know who that is.
JC: I'll take that as a no. But just so you know, Luke is a 7-foot or so college basketball star for Georgia Tech, an Australian center who has red curly hair just like you and a cult following, i.e. fans who walk around wearing a t-shirt that says 'Luke Schenscher has a posse'.
DW: [Laughs] I'll definitely have to check that out.
JC: The Oscars are up this weekend - who do you think should get best actor and best actress?
DW: Best actor definitely has to go to the Hotel Rwanda guy - Don Cheadle for sure. Best actress, that's tough.
JC: Angelina Jolie for just being hot?
DW: [Laughs] Yeah, I could go with that. Angelina could definitely pull that off.
JC: Speaking of acting, who's the best actor in MISL?
DW: Oh, Daryl Doran, the player coach of St. Louis. He's a great player but anytime he's near the boards he just falls over and gets two-minute penalty calls all the time.
JC: I'm surprised the referees haven't caught on to this yet?
DW: [Laughs] You've got to respect the veterans, the elders.
JC: So he's pretty old then?
DW: [Laughs] He's definitely pretty old, I used to watch him play when I was a kid.
JC: Who's the best player in MISL
DW: Greg Howes for sure (Milwaukee Wave). He's just so dangerous anytime he gets the ball and has a hammer with both feet and always tries to take my head off.
JC: Do you follow European soccer? Who's your team?
DW: Definitely. I get on Fox Sports all the time to watch Arsenal.
JC: You could probably goalkeep for Arsenal. Their goalkeepers right now are horrendous.
DW: [Laughs] I was just thinking that the other day. Every time I've watched the Premiership lately I've seen guys screwing up.
JC: Who do you think has been the worst goalie you've seen lately? I vote for Jerzy Dudek.
DW: I'd have to say Roy Carroll. (Manchester United).
JC: Recently Roy Carroll was hit in the head by a coin thrown from the stands. You ever have anything thrown at you like that in MISL?
DW: No luckily nothing like that - just your basic trash talk.
JC:What's the funniest piece of trash talk you've heard?
DW: [Laughs]. Let's see, one time I turned around and this guy took down his pants and flashed his jug at me.
JC: Are you kidding me? Where was this?
DW: This was in St. Louis.
JC: St. Louis - those people down in Missouri have no respect man!
DW: [Laughs] They were calling me little orphan Annie the whole time too because of my hair.
JC: I think you need to get yourself a Luke Schenscher t-shirt. Do you have any pre-game superstitions?
DW: I definitely wash my gloves the night before every game. I also like to eat the same meal everyday four hours before the game, chicken and pasta. Although yesterday I ate oatmeal and we lost. We'd gone 6-0 with me eating chicken and pasta.
JC: I thought the whole point of a superstition was to do the same thing until you next lose?
DW: Yeah you're right, I messed up, I shouldn't have changed anything.
JC: If you could appear in a reality show, which one would you choose and why?
DW: Fear Factor. Put me on Fear Factor and I will win it every time!
JC: You obviously have no qualms about eating bugs and the like then?
DW: I will eat anything!
JC: I'm guessing anything except oatmeal?
DW: Maybe not oatmeal but everything else. All the contestants on that show are always weak - they need an 'Athlete Fear Factor' not a 'Model Fear Factor'!
JC: Ok I wish you luck with Fear Factor if you're ever on it. Thanks for your time.
DW: Thanks a lot.
Jen Chang is the U.S. editor for ESPN Soccernet.com. He can be reached at: email@example.com