A few minutes with ex-Terp Taylor Twellman


(2007 photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

You may remember Taylor Twellman from his time at the University of Maryland or his MLS career. You’ve probably been following his World Cup analysis on ESPN or on Twitter. He chatted with The Post about a variety of topics this week. A few highlights:

You’re plenty familiar with what it’s like to wear the U.S. national team jersey. Is it difficult for these guys to shrug off the disappointing tie to Portugal and focus on Thursday’s game against Germany?

Twellman: It’s not hard at all. Because you’ve got four points and you’re going into the third game against Germany not needing a win. Before the World Cup starter, if you were to tell any one of those players, coaches, president of U.S. soccer, anyone — would you take that? — all of them would’ve signed up. So, you forget it. You hash it out with your teammates. You argue, you fight about whose fault it was. But then you move on. The reality is, if you tie Germany, you’re in. That’s a remarkable feat.

So let’s say Thursday’s game is tied 1-1 at half. What do you think that second half will look like? Conservative play on both sides?

Twellman: Germany is going to want to win the game. Human nature is part of this, whether it’s Philipp Lahm, who didn’t have a great experience at Bayern Munich with Jurgen Klinsmann, whether it’s Jogi Low, who wants to prove what he can do. And there’s Jurgen Klinsmann who wants to say, I’m still the one who introduced this all in Germany. And there’s five German-Americans who want to prove that they’re good enough to play for them.

I don’t see both teams playing for a draw. Now if you’re in the 80th minute, that’s a different story. But if it’s tied at halftime, both teams are going to try to win.

Your career was cut short because of concussions, and I know it’s an important issue to you today. (Twellman was part of a White House summit on concussions last month with President Obama and has a foundation aimed at raising awareness and promoting education.) Why does it seem that much of the soccer world — particularly abroad — is slow to engage in some of these discussions?

Twellman: I think everyone’s a little scared of what head injuries means to the sport and how do you address it. I’m a firm believer, instead of being scared as I was my first two years dealing with the injury, why not meet it head-on and why not address it? A big aspect of our game is heading the soccer ball. It needs to be addressed and it needs to be investigated. We need to collect data so we make the right educated decisions. Until we have time to do that, we have to be very aware of the recognition and rehabilitation of concussions. Right now, the United States is ahead of the world in addressing the issue. Are we where we need to be? No.

How has the ESPN experience been going? Are you enjoying talking about soccer as much as playing soccer?

Twellman: It’s been great. It’s been a dream come true. I tell everyone this, and everyone laughs: I had no goals to do this. I didn’t think I could pull it off. I remember my first game being a nightmare. I had no idea what I was doing. Every day is a learning experience, every day is an enjoyment and every day is a game. No pun intended. It’s no different from playing. I take pride in preparing and working hard.

More from the World Cup:

Revisit all of Tuesday’s action in the World Cup live blog

Is FIFA doing enough to treat concussions in soccer?

Jermaine Jones’s present and past will collide vs. Germany

Klinsmann says World Cup scheduling has U.S .at disadvantage

Video: How the U.S. can advance to the knockout round

CONCACAF teams are serving notice

Thousands of American soccer fans make Brazil feel like home

Scores and schedule | Group standings | Stats leaders

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