July 9, 2014
By Steve Lewis - UConn Athletic Communications
STORRS, Conn. – Former UConn midfielder George Fochive has had the opportunity to play competitive soccer in France and Hawaii during his young soccer career, an unusual feat for a 22-year-old player to have on his resume. He can now add Oregon and California to that list.
Fochive (Paris, France), a member of the 2013 UConn men’s soccer team that advanced to the NCAA Regional Quarterfinals, was drafted by the Portland Timbers in the third round (39th overall) of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
The Portland midfielder did not see play time with the Timbers at the start of the season, prompting the team to loan him out to the Sacramento Republic on a one-year loan. The Republic play in the United Soccer Leagues (USL), a league recognized as Division III by the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Though he is not content with his current arrangement due to his own personal high expectations, Fochive is now getting the chance to play frequently and develop his skills to make him MLS-ready. In 10 games with Sacramento, he has started seven, recording 670 minutes played.
“When you’re a competitor, you always want to play but I understand that the team is very good and experienced, especially at my position,” said Fochive about the Timbers. “Every day is an opportunity to learn and be better. Obviously, you want to play and get experience. I’m on the right track and I’m not worried.”
Fochive has only been a professional player for about six months, but he has grown accustomed to the differences in preparation for the MLS and UConn soccer seasons. Limited practice time at UConn compared to unlimited training in Portland helps to form team chemistry and improve focus.
“You don’t have a lot of time to practice with the team and coaches, really only about 10 days before the season starts, so that’s the tough part of the college soccer game,” said Fochive.
He added, “As far as preseason with the Timbers, all of these guys are always trying to get game-fit… When you play a game for a while, you know that as competition rises, the training and preseason preparation is tougher in order to be fit to participate.”
Fochive has become more familiar with the entire professional lifestyle, including daily routines, practice schedules, and mental preparation for all team events. Taking things a day at a time and learning as you progress in your career, he believes, is the easiest way to adapt to a new environment.
The midfielder played his final two collegiate seasons at UConn after spending the first two at Hawaii Pacific University, a Division II soccer school.
During his senior season in Storrs, Fochive started all 23 games and was named to the American Athletic Conference All-Second Team after his defensive efforts led the Huskies to 12 shutouts throughout the season. He also was named Conference Defensive Player of the Week two consecutive times in October, while helping to keep opponents scoreless for 350 minutes of play. His junior season was successful as well, as he started all 22 games and tallied just shy of 2,000 minutes on the year.
“With the objective of becoming a professional, going to UConn I knew was the right place to be,” said Fochive when asked the main difference between Hawaii Pacific and UConn. “UConn treats you like a professional at a younger age and they expect you to develop the mental and physical component of the game… they have really high expectations for their players and that’s what I loved about the program.”
Competing for national championships on a yearly basis and playing with some of the most elite collegiate soccer players in the country at UConn gave Fochive the chance to bond with a talented and diverse group of young men, which he will greatly cherish.
“It’s the diversity of the team at UConn that I loved,” said the Portland midfielder. “We were a strong group of guys that really came from all over the world, and it was the relationships that developed with my teammates at UConn that I really enjoyed.”
Spending approximately 10 years of his youth living in Paris with his family, Fochive went to boarding school down south in Clermont-Ferrand. It’s smaller than Paris, but it has a strong soccer culture with universities and professional teams playing the game year-round. While attending school in southern France, Fochive’s focuses were school and soccer.
“Growing up, I noticed the major difference in soccer (in France) was that it was everywhere,” said Fochive. “As soon as you had a second, you would find a ball and play in the street or at a school. Most importantly, organized soccer was there, meaning every opportunity to play competitive soccer was really taken seriously.”
It is Fochive’s soccer experiences and knowledge that will make him a valuable asset to the Timbers as his professional career begins.