SAN JOSE, Calif. – When Jon Busch made multiple one-on-one stops against Colorado Rapids rookie Deshorn Brown to preserve a 1-1 tie last month, the San Jose Earthquakes veteran goalkeeper didn’t think much of the suggestion that he was responsible for earning the club a point.
“My job is to make saves,” Busch told reporters that night. “I’m not ever going to be the one saying, ‘Oh, I did this, I did that.’ I did my job.”
Little wonder, then, that Busch has thrown his support behind the Navy SEAL Foundation. The 36-year-old describes those elite soldiers with language that could, in another context, be easily applied to him.
Busch combined with San Jose’s Earthquakes Community Funds to raise more than $8,000 for the NSF last season and hopes to better that number this year with the addition of the Saves for SEALs section at the Quakes’ game against the LA Galaxy on June 29.
For his work, Busch earned the MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Month award for June.
“For me, first and foremost, it’s the way that they go about their business,” Busch told MLSsoccer.com about why the SEALs drew his charitable attention. “They’re the silent professionals. They do their work, and then they go home. And nothing’s ever said, nothing’s ever done. They don’t talk about anything. To me, I’m attracted to that demeanor.”
Busch said his support crystallized after hearing about the events of Aug. 6, 2011, when a US helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan by Taliban forces. Thirty-one American service members died in the resulting crash, including 25 SEALs and support personnel.
Against the Galaxy, Busch plans to wear specially made cleats bearing the date “8/6/11” in memory of those deaths.
“That was when I had my moment of clarity, to say, ‘This is the direction I need to go in,’” Busch said. “I need to support these families – the wives, the kids – after these soldiers are gone. ... The soldiers obviously make a huge sacrifice, but so do the families. It’s not an easy life for them.”
Busch said he didn’t pick the SEALs based on any personal ties to the military, although he has since met what he calls “some of the Navy boys, and it’s changed my life.”
“I take my job very seriously as a professional, like I’ve done for 17 years now,” Busch said. “But [the SEALs’ work] puts it into perspective. I play a game for a living, and I’m blessed to play a game for a living because of those guys. If you think about it, in reality, [if] we lose the game or we give up goals or whatever – at the end of the day, I’ve got nobody trying to kill me. And I’ll be able to come back tomorrow and train hard again and focus on my job again.”
Fans will have a chance to see that focus up close on June 29. Those who buy seats in Section 125 at Stanford Stadium will take part in a postgame Q&A session with Busch.
That plan seems a little bit daring on the part of San Jose, since Busch always takes defeats to heart, and the Quakes have won just once in their last 11 MLS matches. Busch has no fear about being a good host, win, lose or draw.
“At the end of the day, this whole project is so much bigger than winning and losing a soccer game, and that’s what’ll drive me,” Busch said. “That’s what will keep me in the right frame of mind. We’re doing something so special here.”