New York Cosmos goalie Jimmy Maurer was born and raised in the South. It had to take a lot of courage (and a supportive wife), to move to distant places with strange cultures to further his career. Places like Chile. And New York City. But Maurer did just that, and his career and family are better off for it.
After the Cosmos final practice in New York before Saturday’s NASL Soccer Bowl championship, Jimmy talked with 10Soccer about how he and his family made the most of their time in South America, and are doing the same in the Big Apple.
Maurer was raised in the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville. He played his high school soccer at St. Pius X Catholic High School and then had a fantastic career at the University of South Carolina. Maurer started every game in goal during his career with the Gamecocks, from 2007 to 2010. Among his many achievements, he was the named the C-USA Freshman of the Year in 2007, was an All-Conference USA player all four years, and shutout arch-rival Clemson every time he faced them.
Jimmy played the 2011 season with the Atlanta Silverbacks. After the season he was looking around for what options there would be for 2012.
“One of my friends who coaches in Atlanta, Francisco Pancho Ugarte, gave me a call saying that one of his old teammates was the coach of a team [in Chile] and was looking for a goalkeeper. He was asking about Americans because our country has such a good history of goalkeepers.”
Jimmy thought it was a good opportunity and decided to take his family to Chile. With his wife Kristen, and their first (and at the time only) son Brody, they made the move down to the city of Concepción, so he could play for the Chilean first division team Universidad de Concepción.
An injury greatly limited Maurer’s playing time in Chile, but I asked Jimmy what he learned soccer-wise while he was down there.
“Everything – technically, tactically, training, was different than the American style. Goalkeeper training specifically – they expect the goalkeepers to be more a part of the game with their feet. It was definitely tough at first, but I think it’s something I bring back to the US now.”
Soccer wasn’t the only thing different in Chile. Although language presented somewhat of a problem – Jimmy only knew some high school Spanish – the Maurers were determined to embrace the opportunity of learning about a new culture.
“We took it as a big adventure. We really enjoyed meeting new people. Every time we had a day off we’d go try to see some of the sights. One weekend we drove a couple of hours into the Andes Mountains and spent the night at a ski resort. We just embraced every challenge that came to us.”
The Maurers came back to the States this year, but the learning, both on and off the field, continued when Jimmy signed with the Cosmos. He talked about what it was like joining a club that was just starting up. He said it was very similar to being with the Silverbacks in 2011 when they re-started with the NASL.
“It’s definitely different. It’s a challenge coming in with 30 brand new guys and a new coaching staff. Things were still getting put together. The front office was great. Everyone was working hard to get things done the right way. Everything from our training gear, to the training field, the meshing on the field, our style of play – it was a big challange.”
“You learn a few things about being positive and staying patient. That was one thing that [Cosmos head coach] Gio Savarese has been incredible with. He really pushes everyone to bring their best, but he’s so positive. It really carries through the team. It’s a great atmosphere here.”
Living in New York is yet another cultural change for his Southern family, which has grown to 4 with the addition of son Grant earlier this year. “It’s definitely another change. Things are a little bit different. We go into the city and out to the beaches. My son loves the boat rides to the Statue of Liberty. It’s fun having such a big city close by.”
His experiences over the last two years have given Maurer a great perspective. “All these places around the world, they have their own unique things, beautiful natural scenery, different languages. But with the way travel is and the Internet, everything spreads so fast, nothing is too different anymore.”
Jimmy Maurer has traveled far from his Georgia roots to further his soccer career. Along the way, Jimmy, his wife Kristen and his two sons have taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them, both professionally and personally. Two years later, he and the Cosmos are on the verge of an NASL Championship, just 20 miles from where he grew up. It’s good to be back home again.
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