The Lehigh Valley native scored five goals on the year when he moved from the back to the attack halfway through the season. Welch kindly answered a few questions via email before heading to Florida for the 2010 MLS Combine.
Photo Credit: Lehigh Media Relations
Q. As a Pennsylvanian, are you excited to see MLS finally arrive in the state with the Union?
- Definitely. It was only a matter of time before Philadelphia got a pro soccer team. There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Union. The club has already sold a good amount of season tickets, and have a quality supporters club with the Sons of Ben. The fact that they will have their own soccer specific stadium is a huge plus as well.
Q. You made the transition from the back to the front this season. How difficult was the transition?
- It wasn't too difficult because I played as a forward in high school, but it definitely took a little time to get used to playing the position again. I played as a back for most of my college career, so when I got the nod to play as a forward I was pretty excited for the new opportunity.
Q. And being named Defensive Player of the Year of the Patriot League; have you had time to reflect?
- I was a little surprised to be honest, especially because I played the last 5 games of the season as a forward. Overall, I was satisfied with the season that I had individually, and hope to continue to get better as a player at the next level. I am very appreciative and honored that the patriot league recognized me as Defensive Player of the Year.
Q. With two invites to the MLS Combine out of the league, does this speak to the competitive level of the league?
- The fact that Conor and I received invites to the combine absolutely speaks to how competitive the league is. The Patriot League is extremely competitive. Army and Navy have hired coaches from Maryland and Messiah, respectively, and are making the Patriot League as a whole stronger than its ever been. Year in and year out, Patriot League schools are getting good results against teams from the best conferences in the country. I still think that the league doesn't get the respect it deserves, but with time it will begin to garner some national spotlight.
Q. What have you done to prepare for the combine?
- In order to stay fit, I have been on a strength and conditioning schedule with a Lehigh fitness coach. As far as playing is concerned, I have been able to train with a group of college players that live in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding area. Many of them are preparing for the Infosport Pro Combine as well as the MLS combine and MLS invitational tryouts.
Q. How do you feel your first touch will be?
- I have been playing and getting touches on the ball pretty consistently since the season ended, so I expect to be ready to go when the combine begins. Hopefully I can get the nerves out before the first game so that I can just settle in and play.
Q. Is there anything that you specifically worked on to improve prior to the combine?
- I have always been a player that is confident with both feet, but one thing that I have focused on over the past few months was driving balls over distance with my weak foot.
Q. How is soccer culture in the Lehigh Valley from when you were in high school until now? Has interest in the sport improved or declined?
- I am very excited for the future of soccer in the Lehigh Valley. It has grown tremendously since I was a freshman in high school. The Valley now has a number of well established club soccer programs, a semi-pro team that competes in the NPSL [Pennsylvania Stoners], and multiple quality soccer facilities. I have had the opportunity to work closely with youth teams in the area over the years, and I expect there to be more and more Division 1 soccer players coming out of the Valley every year.