This is season four for Zac MacMath.
He’s sick of all the questions about his game, where he is in his maturation process and whether or not he can help deliver some hardware to Philadelphia.
The Union goalkeeper is coming off his best season as a professional boasting career a high 12 shutouts, and led the Union to 12 wins, a franchise record. In the offseason, MacMath, 22, was no slouch, using a goalkeeper specific offseason training regimen and watching countless hours of game film to pre-scout 2014 opposition.
Union technical director and goalkeeper coach Rob Vartughian recently said of the Union starter:
“I think in the case of Zac, you have a really young guy who has had the fortune of playing a lot of games. I think the next step for him is just beicoming that presence and taking on that leadership role and that stature that you want out of a goalkeeper, out of that last [line of defense]. I think there are a lot of parts of his game that he has developed and that he has improved on, and I think now for him it's just being more of a vocal leader and a leader by his presence. And that will develop as he continues to string together consistent performances so for him it comes with just being a part of more games and earning more experience."
When he wasn’t crafting his game, MacMath was making his presence know off the field through his work with a local charity to raise funds for cancer research and petitioned fans on his own Twitter account and through a blog created by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
I just signed up to raise money for St. Baldrick's. Check out my webpage! http://t.co/XQXFvIhe5B— Zac MacMath (@ZacMacMath) March 13, 2014
Point is Zac MacMath stayed busy this offseason in preparation to play catalyst in Union on-field success. Before the club opens at home this Saturday against New England Revolution (4 p.m., purchase tickets) behind what is supposed to be sunny skies and warm temperatures, he sat down with philadelphiaunion.com to talk his aspirations for not just this season but his career in a Union uniform.
philadelphiaunion.com: Zac, this is year No. 4 for you can you talk about how you think you’ve grown in this position and overall as a professional?
Zac MacMath: Every year, I have just tried to pick up new things and really learn the process of being a professional. It’s a long season it’s really about not doing too much too early. It sounds cliché, but an MLS season really is a marathon and not a sprint.
PU.com: Over the course of an offseason, what does a goalkeeper do to prepare for a new year?
ZMM: To prepare for the season, it was really about working on fitness first. We have specialized plans given to us by [fitness coach Kevin Miller], mine obviously focuses on goalkeeper fitness and then it’s also watching a lot of game film and looking at the teams we’ll be playing this season. It really is about watching other players, seeing their tendencies and recognizing certain traits.
PU.com: Talk about year No. 1 for you to year No. 4 and what the road to where you are now as a starter in this league has been for you?
ZMM: Starting the first year on the bench actually was really good for me. I got to see how things work especially on gameday and the level I’d have to take my game to be successful. I was behind a proven veteran like Faryd Mondragon and seeing how we operated on a daily basis on and off the field was good for me. Obviously the second season for me was a little rough, but that year showed me that I have to develop consistency in my game, so in many ways that was a good year for me personally.
PU.com: Zac, with the offseason acquisitions made during the offseason, expectations are high that this team is poised to be a contender in the Eastern Conference this season. Being the man in between the pipes, what are your thoughts on this team as a whole?
ZMM: My thoughts are good. We are still getting to know each other and still trying to gel both on and off the field, but it’s no secret that our team is much better this year, the coaching staff did a tremendous job and adding the couple pieces that we really needed. Our hope now collectively, is that this team can really gel early on and throughout the whole season and take us into the playoffs.
PU.com: You have a strong family unit. What has your mother and father done to support and help build confidence?
ZMM: [Laughs] It depends on how I’m playing. But no, my mom and dad are great people and have been really instrumental to the success of my career. I wouldn’t be where I am without them, so they get all the credit.
PU.com: New year, new season. What are your personal aspirations heading into this year, obviously you have collective goals as a team, but what would you like to personally accomplish?
ZMM: I look at this year in many ways as a statement year for myself and I have goals that I’d certainly like to accomplish. One is shutouts. Last year, I had 12, but I was talking with [defender Amobi Okugo] and both of us have a goal for 15. Also, I’d like to be in the top three in terms of goals against average (Editors note: MacMath boasted a 1.62 GAA in 2013) that’s a big goal of mine. But mainly, I want to make sure that I am more vocal and making sure that we don’t give up goals late especially ones that will cost us points. It’s really my job to keep our team in these games and I feel confident that this year I’ll make a difference.
What do you think about MacMath’s maturity this season? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org