CATCHING UP WITH COSMOS COPA STAR DWAYNE SMITH
Dwayne "Balla Rick" Smith has been one of best players to ever play in Cosmos Copa. He was the top scorer in 2009 and made the best XI in 2010. During that time, he scored against Manchester City for a Cosmos Copa All-Star team and scored 46 goals in an excellent career at Bethel College. After turning heads at Cosmos Copa and at the college level, he was drafted by the New England Revolution in the 2012 MLS Superdraft. We caught up with Dwayne to talk about his time playing in the Cosmos Copa, how it helped him prepare for college and his future plans.
Cosmos Copa: How did you enjoy your experiences in the last few years at Cosmos Copa?
Dwayne Smith: It's been great to be honest, it's been wonderful. The talent level is always there and the platform that it has been for me has been tremendous.
Everything the tournament did they involved me in and I am indebted to that. A lot of friendships were formed. It's tremendous.
CC: How have you improved as a player playing in the tournament?
DS: I used it as an avenue to hone my skills, every time I go back to school my fitness level was always at a maximum capacity. The competition is intense and you are playing at a high level and the Copa provides that. You can't get that by training by yourself. I've never struggled throught the 1st half of the college season because I came back to school in great shape.
At Cosmos Copa, you get to compete with players that are crafty or just as good as you. It gives you an idea of what you need to do to get better.
It gives you something to work towards over the summer. I am excited to see what is going happen this year.
CC: What did you learn from playing in the tournament that you were able to take back to your college side?
DS: From my perspective, it is a bit different because I have consistently played at a high level. It was a personal development. It gave me an avenue to work on the things that I needed to do to become one of the top athletes in my area.
CC: You were drafted by the Revolution in the supplemental draft this year? What was your emotions when you heard that news?
DS: I was elated. Knowing that it was the first step in things to come. To show that my hard work is coming to fruition and it has not gone unnoticed. You like to be recognized for the hard work that you have put in.
CC: You had a successful preseason with the New England Revolution, what was that experience like?
DS: It was great. Some of my greatest idols became a rival: Henry and Beckham. To be competing with them on the same field (In the 2012 Desert Diamond Cup) . It just doesn't get better. It was an experience that no amount of money can buy, it was unimaginable.
CC: What are your plans for the future? Do you plan on playing in this year's Copa?
DS: That might not be possible but I definitely want to lend my support. I am with the (USL Pro team) Pittsburgh Riverhounds. I am signed. Hopefully my paperwork will go through this week and I can start playing. The tournament (Cosmso Copa) definitely provided an avenue to reach that.
CC: What advice would you give NYC players in this year's tournament
DS: Don't take it for granted. Not for a second. The moment you do that is the moment that you don't play your best. You never know who's watching. Coaches came up to me and I got several offers from the tournament on the spot.
The avenue that the tournament provides is pheonomenal. A lot more scouts will be at this year's tournament because scouts are looking for new untapped talent. So you should want to be the most talked about player at the tournament. Thats what you should strive to. Because people see it. It's a blessing.