AC St. Louis star Steve Ralston was a featured guest on Monday night’s edition of Fox Football Fone-In, a weekly two hour call-in show on the Fox Soccer Channel hosted by analyst Nick Webster and former player Eric Wynalda.
Ralston was interviewed live from St. Louis via SKYPE on the nationally televised program based in Southern California.
During the twenty plus minute interview, Steve fielded questions from Nick and Eric, Temeryss Lane and three callers on subjects ranging from his health, his role as a player and assistant coach, the strength of the new USSF league, captaincy of the team, owner Jeff Cooper and his decision to leave the New England Revolution and sign with St. Louis.
“First and foremost, I’m a player,” was Ralston’s response to his dual roles as player and assistant coach.
Ralston has only met Coach Claude Anelka once, on the day of the press conference announcing his signing, as Anelka has been in France and Ralston in Boston. He plans on meeting with Anelka today to further discuss his role as assistant. Ralston stressed the importance of being on the field playing, as well as mentoring his young teammates, and that he expects to learn from Anelka.
Ralston plans on being fit to play by May 1st as his recovery and rehab from knee surgery is going well.
When asked by a caller about his decision to leave MLS for AC St. Louis, Ralston replied that “the fact that St. Louis is my home played a major factor in it, and, like I said also, about Jeff (Cooper), his vision and his passion for bringing soccer back to St. Louis…I kind of always imagined I’d retire in MLS, but things don’t always happen that way. I thought it was a great opportunity for me to come back home and finish my career as a player but also to gain experience as a coach.”
“I’m on Board with Him”
Earlier in the interview, host Eric Wynalda stated that Jeff Cooper is really impressing people in the soccer community, and that he is someone who we will be learning a lot more about in the next few years.
Ralston commented that “Jeff’s been fantastic…he’s a big reason why I came here. Negotiations with the Revs had stalled a bit, and he (Cooper)was fantastic through the whole thing. He’s been the driving force of trying to get a team here, tried it with MLS but it didn’t work out and now obviously we’re all excited to get AC St. Louis going. He’s got some great ideas, and he’s so passionate about it, he wants to do so well in St. Louis, so I’m on board with him and looking forward to moving forward with this.”
Ralston also stated that he didn’t think see much difference in quality between MLS and the new USSF league based on US Open Cup play and the quality players in USSF, but he implied that MLS has an edge probably because of deeper rosters. He also stressed the rich tradition of soccer in St. Louis and the many professional players from the area, and how special he feels bring professional men’s soccer back to St. Louis after an absence of over thirty years.