This week we’re thinking inside the box with Menace goalkeeper Jhojan Obando and learning how he found the love of his life (so far): soccer.
Growing up in Colombia, Obando witnessed first-hand the Colombian national soccer team at its best and worst. This shaped his perspective of the game. He recalls watching the 1994 World Cup, at a time when soccer held his country together and kept it safe from the drug lords and the Medellín Cartel. It was the final World Cup match, a shootout win for Brazil over Italy, that inspired him to be a goalkeeper.
“The ’94 World Cup Game was the first time I actually watched soccer,” said Obando. “I remember specifically the PK’s. I liked how the keeper felt after saving a PK.”
The adrenaline rush of making a big save captivated Obando and laid the coursework for his soccer career. The goalkeeper position can be ruthless, but the feeling of accomplishment after helping his team is what keeps Obando going.
After spending the first half of the season on the bench, he has emerged as the Menace's starting goalie. He notched a shutout in the team's 2-0 win over Thunder Bay on July 9 -- a result that kept Des Moines' playoff hopes alive heading into this final weekend of the season.
“I like the pressure. It’s knowing you have to be on your best game to help the team. Make one mistake and the game could go the other way,” noted Obando, who prepares for his senior season at Providence. “I’m always thinking that I have to keep the ball out of the net and make sure that the team is organized and where everyone is supposed to be at.”
Obando attributes his accomplishments to his family and the world’s game.
“Soccer kept me away from other things, bad things, in life,” said Obando. “It’s kept me organized in life and in everything I do. I do things because of everything that I learned in soccer.
"My friends kept me in the sport, as well as my hard work and dedication. It was a lot of hours in the gym and on the field by myself. I didn’t have any goalkeeping training when I was young. I watched a lot of games on TV and learned on my own for the first 10 years of my soccer career.”
Besides soccer, Obando enjoys spending his time watching hanging out with friends and watching television.
“I’m addicted to reality TV,” said Obando. “Pretty much everything on TV, especially the Bachelorette. It’s funny; I’m a hopeless romantic.”
Obando stands-out in more ways than wearing a different colored jersey on the field. Women better brace themselves; he’ll sweep you off your feet and whisk you away on his ideal date.
“Alone in the mountains or somewhere out of civilization,” said Obando. “Just me and the girlfriend having a nice dinner or picnic with some wine.”
He’s a hard-worker, a charismatic gentleman earning his way to the top. Some may think he walked out of a romance novel, but really he just walked out of the Menace locker room at Valley Stadium.
And yes ladies, he’s single, and a keeper.
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
Menace interns Jenae Jenison and BJ Stokesbary provide fans with a player spotlight video and story each week.
College: Providence College
Pre-Game Rituals: Kiss the posts and crossbar before the initial whistle.
What You Bring to the Menace: Hardwork and dedication
Favorite TV Show: LOST
Favorite Team: Barcelona
Favorite Player: Iker Casillas
Favorite Soccer Move: The scorpion
Favorite Food: Rice and beans
Favorite Menace teammate: Anthony "Twan" Colaizzi
Favorite Coach Calloway Quote: "You're a bunch of pansies."
Johnny MacAdam, Luis Piffer
Menace alumni Tomas Boltnar, Neathan Gibson and Luke Frieberg