Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Red Bulls bank on streetwise Tchani
by Mike Woitalla, January 26th, 2010 7AM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS] This season, Tony Tchani will be wearing the jersey of the New York Red Bulls. It will be one of the few uniforms the 20-year-old has ever worn. Before he came to the USA from Cameroon in 2006, Tchani played all his soccer on the streets of Bafang.

"Since I was little I would just play on the street with my friends," said 6-foot-4 Tchani, who went pro after helping Virginia win the NCAA Division I title in his sophomore season. "On the street there's no parents, no referees, no rules. You just play. I'd play with my friends. Usually four-on-four or three-on-three."

When his friends weren't around, he'd juggle or practice his shooting. On television, he'd watch his hero, the Frenchman Zinedine Zidane. From television he learned the rules of the game. Of American soccer he knew little.

"I knew about the U.S. national team," he said. "But not about the league."

He was too young to recall Cameroon's historic run to the quarterfinals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy. His first memories of the Indomitable Lions were from the 1994 World Cup.

"That was in the United States, right?" he says.

When he was 12 years old his mother left Bafang for the United States seeking political asylum. About four years later, Tchani, who was living with extended family, was able to join her in Maryland. After the joyful reunion he sought soccer and was at first distressed that there was no sign of it in the streets of his new neighborhood.

But his uncle knew Mohsin Bouziane, the coach of Maury High School in Norfolk, Va., to where he moved and quickly became the star of the Commodores.

"He learned how to play soccer with older guys," Bouziane told the The Virginian-Pilot. "He learned how to defend himself. He learned how to be tough. He learned how to survive in an environment like that."

After two years of high school ball, he accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Virginia. The central midfielder scored nine goals and made three assists during his freshman year before suffering a knee injury. He notched eight goals and four assists as the Cavaliers lifted last year's national title.

"Today is the best day of my life," Tchani said after being selected in the SuperDraft. "This is a dream come true." 

Asked what his strengths are, Tchani, with a Red Bulls scarf around his neck, said, size and speed. Asked what he needs to improve on to make it in the pros: "Everything. It's not going to be easy."



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Luis Figo    
"I have seen with my own eyes federation presidents who, after one day comparing FIFA leaders ...
NWSL Roundup: Reign has plenty to counter China    
Seattle Reign FC has another bye week in the NWSL, but it will use it to ...
Making a List: Top 15 U.S. EPL TV markets    
NBCUniversal, which concludes its second year of English Premier League coverage with "Championship Sunday" at 9 ...
ICYMI | MLS: Wondo takes century chase to big stage    
A fast start to the 2015 season has Chris Wondolowski one goal away from reaching the ...
MLS this weekend ...    
A 42-day stint on the road will take FC Dallas to both coasts and several points ...
Open Cup: Cosmos-NYCFC? Jersey gets a say first    
U.S. Soccer conducted the draw for the the fourth round, where the 17 MLS entrants will ...
Twenty for Canada 2015: England's Lianne Sanderson    
With the international retirement of Kelly Smith, her Arsenal Ladies teammate, Lianne Sanderson could be the ...
Twenty for Canada 2015: Nigeria's Asisat Oshoala    
Asisat Oshoala is being tipped as the greatest young female player to ever come out of ...
Open Cup: Five amateur teams pull upsets    
Five amateur teams -- the PDL's Jersey Express and Ventura County Fusion, USASA's PSA Elite and ...
ICYMI | MLS: Time to end Jermaine Jones experiment?    
The New England Revolution's nine-game unbeaten streak ended when it imploded at Sporting Kansas City, losing, ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives