D.C. United forward and 2004 MLS Cup MVP Alecko Eskandarian talked to STACK about what fuels his fiery style of play. Learn how he handles being sidelined by post-concussion syndrome and, when healthy, how he preps himself for games with hefty doses of tunes, grub, sleep and inspiration.
Interview by: Josh Staph
STACK: Take us through your pre-game preparation, starting the day before?
Eskandarian: The day before the game is very important to me. We usually train for a couple of hours in the morning, then I go home and try to get in a good nap to rest my legs. I like to eat a decent lunch and then a good dinner that night. I always go to the Cheesecake Factory the night before a game for a big bowl of pasta with some vegetables and a salad.
I make sure I get a good night of sleep—about 10 hours. I get a decent breakfast in me and then eat a lighter lunch. I usually try to eat some pasta so I have enough carbs to get me through the game. After that, I lie down in bed and put my legs up for about 20 minutes to get the blood out of them. I listen to music and get ready for game time. It’s always something fast-paced—usually hip-hop to get my emotions running high. I have a couple of CDs I listen to. It just depends on what is going to get me hyped at that moment.
STACK: Is there anything you try to do as game time gets closer?
Eskandarian: I didn’t have an easy road getting to where I am. So, before every game, I splash some water on my face, take a look in the mirror and just think about my family and friends that I represent—especially the ones who may have passed away or wish they were in my position. It’s something I never forget to do, and it is a huge source of motivation for me.
I try to keep it simple and loose and the same each day, starting when I wake up and eat. I always shower and shave on game days, so I can look good on TV for my mom. I like to remain relaxed. I try to avoid getting into arguments so I can keep a clear head. I make sure I take care of tickets and all that the day before, so I can keep my concentration on the game.
A major thing I do each game day is call my dad. He was a pro soccer player too, and he is my biggest influence. So I like to give him a call when we are on the bus or getting ready for the game.
STACK: How do you keep yourself mentally focused and positive while you are sidelined with the concussion?
Eskandarian: It’s really tough. It is probably the hardest thing I have had to do. I remember back in college, whenever I was hurt, it was tough for me to sit and watch a game. I am a pretty emotional guy, and I want to be out there helping my team. With this injury, I can help the team by talking to them, but it doesn’t compare with being out there with the guys. I try to let them know that I am there if anyone needs to talk. Right now, I am talking to the young guys who aren’t playing a lot and are frustrated. I try to get them to work hard in practice and stay focused, to keep the starters sharp. With post-concussion syndrome, it takes awhile to get back. I don’t even know how much longer I will be out, so I take it day by day.