Sasha Victorine roamed the field for 10 years in Major League Soccer with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Kansas City Wizards and Chivas USA. After retiring following the 2009 season, Victorine returned to Kansas City as a member of the team’s front office.
MLSsoccer.com reporter Andrew Wiebe sat down with Victorine to talk about his new posts as Wizards color commentator and corporate sponsorship specialist, and how he ended up back in Kansas City.
MLSsoccer.com: Now that you are on the other side, what are some things that you were maybe oblivious to or didn’t really know about when you were a player that go on behind the scenes to make everything come together?
SV: You don’t realize how many deals and different things are getting done, especially for our corporate partnerships. What it takes to get partnerships and sponsorships done, just the day-to-day things. One of the things we’ve been working on is that the team needs a shed for stuff. So it’s working out how you get a shed, working out a deal or a trade or buying it if that’s what it comes down to. There are so many small things behind the scenes that you don’t even realize as a player but hear about on this side.
MLSsoccer.com: When you were a player, everything was geared towards Saturday night. Does it feel strange being so quickly removed from it to be in a different role?
SV: Yeah, but there are different things you are building up to. Still being in the broadcasting part of it, you’re still building up to Saturday night in some senses. There’s a lot of stuff you need to study and learn so that you’re ready for the broadcast and getting the information out right to the fans. Hopefully, creating a better environment to watch Wizards games in the future.
MLSsoccer.com: The game against D.C. United was your first time in the booth. What was that like?
SV: I was sick. I was barely able to make it to the game. My daughter had the flu for a couple days, and on Friday morning I came down with the brunt of it. I barely was able to make it there by Saturday. It was also a learning experience for me because it was the first time I’d been in the booth, and you don’t really know what goes on in there and what happens – having and earpiece in your ear and people talking to you or which camera you’re looking at or how much time you have in a certain segment – it’s all adjustments and things I’m learning. As I continue to do it, I’ll get better and better at it.
MLSsoccer.com: What kind of preparation went into this? How much practice did you have?
SV: We went out to all the preseason games that we could get to and did practice runs with those. That part of it I think is fine. When you come to the game part of it, I try to just rely on my experiences and what I’ve done. I try to show that to the fans, show what’s really happening out there and maybe what the players are looking to do. The hard part for me is the pregame shows, the halftime shows and the after shows because those are all things that I’m just not familiar with the way they’re run. I would love to have as much time as possible to tell fans what’s going on with the game, but sometimes that’s not possible.
MLSsoccer.com: What kind of things do you want to turn people on to that they might not have noticed before?
SV: I think there are intricacies of the game that you don’t realize unless you are on the field. I think the game in every country is different and is played differently. I think the experience that I have playing in MLS for 10 years gives me some knowledge how teams play and what they try to do. In some sense, what some of the shortcomings are of players in our league and what the good things are as well. I just want to give a different insight into the game.
MLSsoccer.com: Is it a little strange for you in that regard considering you were a player in the league last year?
SV: I think it’s tough. I have always been a guy that was critical of my play and what I did. I always tried to make sure I was improving and doing better. It was always that way with other guys on the team, too, to try to make sure we were performing our best and doing well. So it’s hard to be in the booth and be critical and say: ‘Oh, he should have done that better.’ I think there is a give and a take. A lot of these guys are very good players and we need to show why they are good players and what they do well. Like all professionals athletes, they make mistakes occasionally.
MLSsoccer.com: You are transitioning to the business side, but I have to believe there are days that you would rather be out at training.
SV: You never want to stop playing, and it’s always difficult to make that decision. Ultimately, injuries and different things came earlier than I wanted them to, but at the end of the day being associated with the game still is exciting. The stadium coming out in the next year is going to be amazing, and watching it go up now and the progress and the push to make it as great of an experience and environment as possible for our fans is important. It’s great to see this happening and be a part of it on this side, but you would always love to be the guy that walks on the first for the first game at the new stadium. Fortunately, I was able to do that in a few stadiums, but it would have meant a lot to be on this field. I’ll take this side though, it’s alright too.
MLSsoccer.com: How have you seen that progress since you came into the league?
SV: It’s interesting. When I first started with the Galaxy, the offices were right outside the Rose Bowl in a trailer. I think there were probably about 12 people working there. It’s amazing to see that they were able to function and get things done based on the number of people we have here and what we’re trying to do, knowing you need to have even more people than we have to run a franchise the way you want to. You start to appreciate how far the league has come. I think this team has almost 60 employees. So it’s a big jump.
MLSsoccer.com: Being a SoCal guy, how did you end up back in Kansas City?
SV: It’s funny. I use the line that I dragged my wife here kicking and screaming when I first got traded to Kansas City. I had to drag her out of here when we got traded later. She loved it. We both actually really enjoy it, and we have a lot of friends here. We call it our second family here in Kansas City. We realized at some point having a daughter and a family that it makes sense living in Kansas City rather than Los Angeles at times. We can really kind of enjoy and focus on family and time together. When it started to look like it might be hard to get back on the field, I started making contacts with Kansas City and other people. Just trying to touch base and see what made sense. We have our house here, and we’re happy to be back. It just kind of made sense to come back here, give it a shot and see how things go.