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Austin FC goalie Brad Stuver on pregame rituals, fan love and his favorite date night spot

A man in a blue soccer kit holds a ball and points, with other players around him on the field
Patricia Lim
KUT News
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver kicked off his fourth season with Austin FC on Saturday

Austin FC's season opener Saturday — a 2-1 loss to Minnesota United — may not have been what fans were dreaming of. But it could have been far worse: Goalkeeper Brad Stuver was credited with eight saves.

In the new ¡Vamos Verde! podcast, Stuver talks with hosts Jimmy Maas and Juan Garcia about his life on and off the field.

Below are excerpts from the interview, edited lightly for clarity.

On not taking a bad day at the office home with you

It's tough because soccer is such a big part of my life. It's not just a job; it's something that I've been doing since I was 4 years old. It is something that I love with every fiber of my being. And, when you lose a game and it starts affecting you mentally, and then you go home and you can't enjoy the life that you've built with your family, the city that you live in, and all these different things, it kind of catches up to you.

So, a lot of the guys do their best to make sure that what happens on the field stays on the field. And then when they go home with their families, they realize that the most important thing in life is your family and the friends that you choose, the things that you want to do. And at the end of the day, soccer is a job, but it is a very big privilege for us to do what we do. And it's something that we love. But we do need to make sure that we can compartmentalize, that what happens on the field shouldn't ruin our day, even though it does that a lot.

On how he feels about energy that Austin FC fans bring to the game.

It's amazing. I'll say that I still haven't quite gotten used to it. This will be the fourth season playing in front of this raucous crowd, and I'm constantly amazed at the amount of dedication that they have at the spectacle that they make on game day. They just show so much passion and so much love for this squad. And, I know that every guy that comes here and they sign with the team, they're like — Man, I've been on the other side of this; I'm so glad that I'm on your side now. I’m like — Yeah, it's gonna feel different. It's going to feel a lot better when it's there at your back and not staring you in the face.

On where he likes to be positioned on the field

I like being on the north end just because I love watching goal celebrations on the south end. So I think one of the really cool things is watching Seba [Driussi], watching Gyasi [Zardes], watching [Alexander] Ring, watching Emi [Rigoni] — like watching all these guys score a goal and then get to go celebrate in front of that [fan] section. It's probably one of my favorite things about the entire experience.

On his pregame ritual

When I get to the stadium, I go out and I walk the field. I go look at the goal. I look at the 6-yard box, then I go do it on the other end. When I go into the locker room, I get dressed. The socks have L and R on them to let you know what foot they need to go on, just in case you didn't know. I have to flip them. I wear the R on my left, and I wear the L on my right. Don't know when it started. Don't know why. It's just something that needs to be done.

And then before each half, I touch each post and the crossbar. And then I center myself in the middle of the goal with my back to the field, and I just kind of talk to myself. I have a kind of mantra that I tell myself. It's kind of like a personal moment for me right before the kickoff where I just use it to center myself and make sure that I'm ready for the next 90 minutes.

On his wife and his favorite date night spot in Austin

Right now, it's the Peacock Mediterranean Grill on Second Street downtown. That's kind of like our go-to date night.

Listen to the full interview in the new ¡Vamos Verde! podcast above and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Elizabeth McQueen is an audio producer and podcast host at KUTX 98.9, Austin’s NPR music station.
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