Assess your 1st season with SF City FC.
I thought it was fantastic inaugural year for the club! The fans were absolutely incredible all year. They make it so much fun to play at home, even if things don’t go our way. I find myself humming their songs at work, the gym, while waiting in line for a sandwich. I’m sure next year, there will be a lot of top level college talent eager to play in an atmosphere like the one we’ve proved we have this year. Of course we fell a bit short of our playoff aspirations, but I don’t think that is such a bad thing. Now there is room, and more importantly hunger, for growth.
Defensive midfield huh?
Love it! It’s a bit lower down the pitch than I’m used to playing but I grew to really enjoy playing there this year. I think the position suits me well, as I’m not necessarily a super explosive player but willing and able to cover a lot of ground out there as I’ve got some decent feet. And I love having a ping. I look to guys like Busquets, Thiago Motta and of course Danny Kirkland for inspiration. A group of guys whose brainpower and touch makes up for a 12-inch vertical and perhaps a slight lack of athleticism.
Having a PDL season under your belt prior to coming to SF City (Fresno in 2013) how does playing for SF City compare? Difficult playing against your former team?
I’ve been fortunate to play for two PDL teams with incredible fan bases. In my mind the two clubs resemble each other in many ways. Both clubs want to showcase the local talent as much as possible; they are involved in the local community, play in great stadiums in front of even better fans, and have professional soccer aspirations. For me it wasn’t weird playing against my former side. One of my favorite games this season was against Fuego at home. We played well despite not getting the result, but the back and forth banter between the Fire squad and the Northsiders was probably the highlight of the day.
Your experience also includes playing overseas in Norway at Asane FK… rad, what’s the atmosphere and style like over there?
It’s different! There is a level of intensity that you don’t quite see here yet. To give you an example, our captain probably put in 15-20 slide tackles a training session on what was often very frozen and rock hard turf. Real Puyol type. His whole hip area was literally callused from tackling and he referred to it as his “dragehud” (dragon skin). So their style is definitely hard nosed, but that’s not to say they are not skilled, because they are. They are lethal finishers as well.
The fans are the extremely passionate grassroots types. Like in England, everyone roots for their cities’ big club, but also support the local neighborhood club. I lived in Bergen, where Brann FK is the big club that everyone supports. In a city of 400,000 there are probably 80 other clubs ranging from 2nd division to 7th that all have their own smaller fan bases. 60-year-old guys even remember when their local team almost made it to the 3rd division and have the club crest tattooed on their arm.
There are a lot of Americans playing in Scandinavian countries, do you think it’s helping or hurting the game in the U.S.?
I’m sure it’s helping the game in the U.S. These Americans who go abroad end up playing alongside some seriously gifted and experienced players. There are a lot of guys in the 2nd, 3rd and even 4th divisions who have played in the 1st divisions of Norway or Sweden for example and were now for whatever reasons playing for a lower division club. Our center midfielder for example, Alan, was a somewhat overweight 32-year-old Ajax youth academy product who played in Copa turf shoes in real games and still managed to outsmart everyone he played against. He taught me a lot about how to play center midfield, how less was more, and I probably would not have had that eye opening experience without having the chance to play with him.
What’s your full time gig these days?
I’m working in event planning while studying computer programming. I’m helping with some of the logistics coordinating for Outside Lands this year.
Sidebar: You’re also a model…Is that also something you want to get into full time?
Hah! The cats out of the bag now. I pose for the occasional picture. The boys give me some stick about it, rightfully so, but It’s a fun side-gig, and best of all… it’s much easier on the body than soccer.
Would you say you’re more of a Freddy Ljundberg or Gerard Pique type player-model-fashionista?
Considering the fact Ljundberg is wearing budgie smugglers in just about every photo he takes I’m gonna have to go with Pique on this one. Also happen to be a bit of a Shakira fan.
Your youth career spans playing at Marin FC with Marin legend coach Josh Kalkstein, Lowell High School and SFSFL… please divulge.
I played my freshman and sophomore years for Lowell High school where we won the city championship both years, thanks to local hero Anthony Clay who scored every game. I chose to play in the SFSFL (SF’s Sunday league) my junior and senior year to get myself some experience playing against bigger guys, where I got absolutely clobbered, but it was good for me.
I played at Marin FC from 13-17 and it was huge for my development. Our coach, Josh Kalkstein, who is still there, is of the Johan Cruyff type philosophy. He taught me how to be a dangerous attacking mid by hiding in the pocket and how to cover ground (had a bit of a habit of standing in the center circle). It didn’t hurt that he was also a class player with some serious tekkers, which only made us all respect him more. He actually played with the first professional soccer team the city ever had, the San Francisco Seals of the 1990’s, who also played at Kezar. Josh has helped lots of local players move on to the professional level.
As one of the only San Francisco born and bred players on our team, what does reppin’ SF at this level mean to you?
It’s an honor! This is my hometown, so having the opportunity to represent the San Francisco soccer community means a lot to me. There are a lot of players I grew up with who were crazy talented, but didn’t get the chances to reach the next level because of things like violence in their communities or lack of resources. The city’s biggest gift is diversity, and I think we really need to create opportunities for the talented kids who come from all across the spectrum. I’m talking about recognizing talent and an investment in growing it, regardless of the player’s background.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
Just that The Northsiders singing the national anthem after the PA system broke one game was just about the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. Difficult song to sing in key, and they nailed it.
You can follow Dylan on Instagram: @dlo_murpheta