Cristian Maidana will be the first to say that the welcoming support he received from day one was unlike any other he's been a part of in his professional career.
Moving to Philadelphia from Argentina with his entire family in tow was no easy feat and the adjustment period took longer than he admits it should have. But now with a full season under him, knowing what's expected, Maidana, 27, is already looking forward to 2015. With his kids fully enrolled in area schools, the Union midfielder is staying in the area, but will use that time to work on his game are get ready for a preseason that will be underway before you know it.
Before leaving the locker room for the last time in 2014, Maidana via translator sat down with philadelphiaunion.com to discuss his offseason plans and grand plans to make next season his best yet.
philadelphiaunion.com: Talk to us about this season, your first in Major League Soccer, what it was like for you and how it was different from places you’ve been before?
Cristian Maidana: For myself, I thought I did well and the team did well. We didn’t finish so good as the thought since the beginning of the season was to be in the playoffs. But I think I did a good job for the team. First year for having to adapt to a new team and League, I think I did well. But I'm ready for next season now that I know these [opposing] teams and what to expect out of the game here in America.
PU.com: When healthy you were a staple in the starting lineup. Was there or is there anything that you think the team being apart of it as much as you were on the field can do to make sure that the playoffs are a reality next season?
CM: For the next year, I think we need to do better to win the games that we didn’t win this year. Too many times we walked off the field with games we should've won or at least gotten a result and we didn't. I do think we did well even though we didn’t make the playoffs, but we were so close and for this team it was our beggest goal. So it's important we all try to get better for next year to try to make the playoffs.
PU.com: In your role as a roaming midfielder how important is it for you to have that freedom and how important is that role in the plans of the [technical staff]?
CM: I feel like the coaches chose me to play a really important role when I step on the field, so I try to do the best for the team to help them win. It's good for me to have the freedom to create plays and help the team score goals, but [we have] a very good midfield and other players can do this job, so I have to make sure I am getting better everyday.
PU.com: What are your offseason plans and what will you work on during your training regimens?
CM: Not much initially, I will stay here in Philly because my kids are in school. So right now, I will rest and think about how I can be better and well rounded for next year. When I train, I will work on my feet, making them quicker and some lifting to get my legs stronger. I think that will make me better player overall.
PU.com: How strongly do you believe you’re on a team that with a few additions can be a playoff contender not just next year, but after year?
CM: I think we have a very good team to make the playoffs. But now I don’t know if they will bring in other players, so I don’t know anything about that. But, we have a very good team, a strong team. I [personally] expect to be in the playoffs next year. I like it here and me and my family have made this home. So it's important to me to do what I can to help win something important for the club.
What do you think of Maidana's comments? Leave yours below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org