Matt Miazga, the 23-game capped USMNT defender, former Chelsea and Anderlecht and current stalwart for FC Cincinnati, joined Footwork to talk about his ever-changing path.
Every week, Dylan and Sean at Footwork Podcast bring you original interviews from players and coaches making their own path around the world. Below we have a short excerpt of their latest podcast guest Matt Miazga. You can find the full interview on your preferred streaming platform here (Footwork Podcast)
On August 5, 2022 it was announced that Matt Miazga had signed for FC Cincinnati. Other than that it was his homecoming to the MLS after more than six years in Europe, it displayed something even more noteworthy.
It was a three-year deal with an option for a fourth.
Up until this contract, the most he had ever stayed with a club was two years. For years, he was constantly on the move to new teams, in the hopes that his performance would provide some normality.
Let’s look at the numbers while he was under contract at Chelsea FC.
6 years. 5 teams. 5 countries.
Some of us in the lower levels understand this to a degree: the difficulties to adapt as quickly as possible and prove yourself at every turn. When you add the immense pressure of these massive clubs and leagues, it quickly decreases that understanding.
These were all one-year trials for Matt. A trial for Chelsea, a trial for the current club he’s just joined, but also a trial for the transfer market. Each of these is an audition so that a club could swoop in and take him off the legendary club’s books.
Chelsea is club that is famous (or infamous) for signing players to long-term contracts, then shipping them out to gain more first-team experience.
This loan system is so fascinating. A player essentially joins a new team while still being employed by their former team.
The impulse to treat it like a one-foot-in, one-foot-out situation is powerful. But also there is the struggle to hit the ground running, because nothing is guaranteed, no matter who your parent club is.
“It makes you grow up. You gotta adapt quickly,” explains Matt. “There’s no time to settle in because you’re there, and you gotta perform right away. You don’t have as many strikes as the other guys.”
You can imagine the constant feeling of change taking its toll. Both physically and mentally adapting to a new league each year are probably some of the most impressive feats in Matt’s still young career (don’t forget, he is 27 years old, still entering his prime for a center back).
It’s also not without its advantages. Each league, each coach, each completely new situation has added an attribute to Miazga’s game.
That’s probably why Matt doesn’t regret how it all turned out. In actuality, he defends it.
“There’s a stigma that if you get loaned out, it’s not good. But it’s actually really good for you and your development,” declares the former Chelsea defender. “You’re going out and playing men’s football. It’s part of the development.”
In those six years, Miazga encountered just about every situation you can think of.
There were relegation battles with Reading, winning the Dutch Cup with Vitesse, playing for the biggest club in Belgium and learning defensive positioning from all-time legend Vincent Kompany, the coach during his season at Anderlecht.
Each of these experiences strengthens Matt as a leader and as a teammate. It’s helped make him more of a complete player, able to adjust tactically and positionally.
That brings us to now.
Matt has since settled into a leadership role as a regular starter in a familiar country – for more than just one season.
“I feel like I’m in a good moment right now,” admits the 27 year-old.
And he is using each experience to become the best player he has ever been.
One who is leading FC Cincinnati to the current best record in the league. And one who is building his case to return to the backline of the US Men’s National Team.
Find the full podcast episode here: 1:25 Level Headed with Matt Miazga
Or Watch A Youtube Highlight Version Here: Highlight Show with Matt Miazga