Nobody ever said professional soccer would be easy. Over my career, I've been through a lot of ups and downs, but it's made me a better player.
My rookie season was great. I played a defensive midfield position, and got a lot of playing time. I became more comfortable on the field. Things were working out very well.
In 2002, there was a new coaching staff brought in. With the new coach came new ideas, but unfortunately, when the new coach came in the door, my playing time went out. With the new system, I had to play a new role, switching between defense and midfield. It was hard for me to adjust, because I was trying to learn a new position and wasn't getting a lot of playing time in games.
With the frustrations I experienced, I talked to the coaching staff and to United technical director Dave Kasper about my situation. We worked out a deal so that I could get the playing time I needed. I spent most of the 2002 season with Richmond in the A-League. It was a different atmosphere, but I was playing a lot of minutes.
In Richmond, we made it to the championship game against Milwaukee, but the best part of my experience was the confidence I gained. I came back to D.C. United and jumped into the starting lineup for the last two matches of the season.
In 2003, I was still floating between midfield and defense, but I played a lot. It was still hard, but I kept working hard. I thought about my time with Richmond, and I just persevered. I worked hard at practice and in games, doing whatever the coaching staff asked of me.
It's finally paid off. Under Coach Nowak, I'm becoming comfortable as a cornerstone in the defensive unit. I even find myself as a "captain" of the rookies. With our young guys, I can give them a lot of advice from my own life. This is good experience for me and it's helping me develop as a leader of this team.