Friday, April 28, 2006

Looking for Taylor Twellman

It is one of the great mysteries of the 2006 MLS season, why isn't Taylor Twellman scoring goals?

For a player that notched in 17 goals last year, this is a little strange. Adding to the odd feeling, just a couple months ago it looked like he had found the international scoring touch during the US training camp. So what gives?

''It's tense," says Taylor Twellman. ''No matter how you look at it, it occupies your mind a lot. I know I've been unfair to my teammates. I even had sinusitis, and the doctor said it was due to stress."

He is too stressed to score. I seem to recall them saying the same thing about Twellman before he got his first international goal. As the logic goes, once he finds net, he'll know he can, thus he will find it more. It's like one of those lab tests were a mouse will wonder around a maze for hours till he finds the cheese, but as soon as he finds it, he will always be able to find it again.

But enough of my cheese metaphors, this stress is directly related to the World Cup in that Twellman knows that there are at least four forwards fighting for three spots (him, Eddie Johnson, Josh Wolff and Brian Ching), so he knows he needs to do something. But knowing and doing are two different things. Lucky for him, only one of the other three is having a good season so far.

Still, I think writing it off to stress might hurt his chances at making the squad. There is going to be a great deal of stress during every match in Germany. If you can't handle it at MLS level, how are you going to handle it amongst the best in the world?

I like Twellman, but I do worry that he will not be able to perform at the top-level. Just like everything big in life, you're nervous before it happens (hell, I'm going to be nervous before every World Cup match and I've got the easy job of screaming like an idiot), but the great ones shrug off those nerves by doing whatever needs to be done.

The good news for Twellman, he is getting a lot of help from the team's coaching staff, especially from assistant coach and former English striker Paul Mariner.

''A striker needs to be tough-minded and very thick-skinned," Mariner explains. ''You're talking about playing before thousands and thousands, and even a hundred thousand in the big matches, and knowing that you can't always succeed. You're not going to succeed on all your chances."

''Taylor Twellman," he continues, ''is a predator in the box. He makes good runs to the box, and when I'm talking about runs, I mean a year here or there. He's a master of quick movement. He's probably the best in the league as finishing as far as the half-yard is concerned."

Yes, Twellman will score again and that goal will probably lead to two or three more soon after, but will that be enough to settle him before World Cup duty?

Anyway, if you want to learn more about Twellman's very sports oriented family or about the pressure of playing a pro sport in Boston, read the rest of today's Boston Globe profile.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on Twellman! I seem to be constantly commenting on your blog, so if anyone sees "Anonymous" constantly on this website, it may be the me.

12:31 PM  

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