Work in Sports
Miami Fusion All-Star Jay Heaps
Fusion defender/midfielder Jay Heaps was Major League Soccer's Rookie of the Year in 1999, and this year, he's an All-Star for the Fusion. Before joining MLS, the 5-foot-9 Heaps was the 1998 MAC Award winner as a soccer star Duke University, where he was also a reserve point guard with the basketball team.
1. What does it mean to you to be the Fusion's All-Star?
[All-Star week] is a really exciting time for MLS, and it's important for me to be a part of that, but being the guy from the Fusion here, I'm representing the Fusion because it's the team that gets you individual awards.
What about the fact that the Fusion is the only team that has just one All-Star?
Yeah, that's tough to swallow. It's one of those things where you can't complain, because we're not in first place, but at the same time we know that we have guys that deserve to be here and should be here.
2. If you were named a captain of an All-Star team and you could pick anybody in the league for your squad, who would it be?
I would say Pablo Mastroeni of the Miami Fusion.
Would you say then that he's been one of the most valuable players for the Fusion?
Yes. He's just one of those guys that's there everyday, and that's tough to find. He and Leo Cullen, who is hurt now, are just everyday the same -- same attitude, same performance. Always a high, rather than a low.
(Editor's note: This interview was conducted Thursday; Mastroeni was added to the East roster on Friday.)
3. What do you think the Fusion's prospects are for the stretch run?
That's what it's really going to be, the last 10 games or so that we really have to put on the full-court press. We have to win, I think, six or seven games to stay in the hunt. It's nice because we're coming together as a group now, because a lot of people are doubting us, and I think it's helping us stick together a little bit.
Despite the sense that you're losing momentum?
Yeah, at the same time we're losing the momentum, with that loss to New York, we kind of hit the bottom of what we think we're capable of, and that's the lowest we can go, so now it's a matter of turning that around and really trying to put our team where it should be with our talent and the way we've won games. We don't get beat a lot of times; we lose games ourselves. It's a matter of, in the last 10 games, really trying to focus and not letting that happen.
What's the key to doing that?
Scoring first. We play a lot times 60, 70 minutes without getting scored upon, and missing chances. If we could just finish a team off with a goal or two early that would just make everything easier on everybody.
4. What is Ray Hudson like in the locker room?
He's unbelievable. Right now, he sees that we're down as a team, but he's keeping us up, keeping morale high. That's important, because no one on our team thinks we're out of this. Everyone thinks that we're still in the hunt, and we are, until someone says you're mathematically out of it. That's when you pack up your sails. But right now, Ray Hudson is very enthusiastic.
5. What's the best thing about being an All-Star?
I think it's the interaction with the guys. This has been my first one. I've been in college All-Star games. You're meeting guys that you're competing with at a high level and you're down each other's throats. Now is a time when you can just kind of sit and relax and really get to know somebody.
6. The worst thing?
I don't think there's a worst thing this weekend, to be honest. It's not one of those things where it's a real pressure situation. To me, there is no worst thing, unless someone gets injured. That could be the worst thing.
You don't mind not getting the vacation that the other guys are getting?
No. I've had a couple days here and there. This is great. For an All-Star weekend, this is what it's all about, and being a part of it is something that I love to do.
7. Having gone to Duke, you must be a pretty smart guy. What would you do to solve the Fusion's problems off the field?
That's being solved. We don't really have many problems. There were some questionable players, but now things are starting to settle down in the locker room.
I mean attendance.
Oh. That's tough. Winning has a lot to do with it. But I think the Fusion staff is really putting a lot of effort into marketing, and I just think we need to create a couple of other events to bring people into the stadium. I was talking to [Fusion GM] Doug Hamilton last night, and it's so tough to figure all that out. Sooner or later, I think when we when, and bring in a couple of events, that will be the key.
8. Can you dunk a basketball?
I can dunk a soccer ball easier. A basketball slips out of my hands sometimes. I need the right alley-oop toss, to be honest with you.
Do you know what your vertical leap is -- I think 38 inches is in the media guide?
Yeah it ranges. Some days it's higher, some days it's lower.
9. Have you talked to Bruce Arena about your prospects with the national team?
Yeah, I was brought in last year for one camp, but I think I have a long way to work in. Who knows? I haven't talked to him in a while about where I stand. I have to play with the Miami Fusion first and become comfortable with the professional game and see where that goes.
10. Word association -- what do you think of when I say Columbus, Ohio?
I think of the Crew. Besides that, when I think of Columbus I think of a soccer town, really. Every game I've been to here and every game I've seen, there have been tons of people there. It's an amazing environment.