International recruits adjust to lifestyle away from home

Carlos Moros Gracia joins a 14-member recruiting class hailing from four different countries.

Carlos Moros Gracia could not help but laugh.

After a light afternoon training session at Ambler Sports Complex, freshman midfielder Hermann Doerner  was having trouble remembering his new American cell phone number.

It was a humorous moment between teammates, which shed light on the adjustment process for some of Temple’s newcomers heading into this season.

“At the beginning it was very hard to adjust because I did not know the language very well, but now I like it here,” Doerner said. “I’ve been here for three weeks and it gets better everyday. Also, with all the other international students [at Temple] I know I am not alone.”

The Owls introduced 14 new recruits this season, including five transfers, whose hometowns span across the U.S., Spain, Germany and Canada.

For Temple’s international recruits, joining a new team was only half the battle.

“The first two weeks I didn’t know the language very well, and I still don’t know it so well now, but I am improving,” Gracia said. “In Europe, I was used to having my family and my friends close, but here it is different.”

Gracia, a Spanish junior defender who transferred from Valencia University, contemplated returning home to Sagunto, Spain after a few days in the United States. The rest of the team persuaded him to stay.      

“Here, my teammates are my family,” Gracia said. “I’m always with them … We are very close. We always do things together and go out to the city. People I didn’t know the first few days are starting to become friends.”

“In the end, it was an easy decision to come here because the whole thing was good—soccer and academics,” Doerner added. “My teammates are supporting me everyday, and the coaches look after me a lot.”

Doerner, from Bad Nauheim, Germany, said one difference between European and U.S. soccer is the use of defensive strategy and tactics.

“[American soccer] is more athletic,” Doerner said. “The teams run a lot. In Europe, the tactical aspect is a little better and higher. In Europe, we have more tactical defending and that is because we watch a lot of videos to learn how to be smart on the field.”

Hoping to boost the Owls offensively this season is another international transfer, junior midfielder Justin Stoddart.

Stoddart, an Ontario native spent the last two seasons at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois to improve his academics before making the jump to Division I. He started all 20 games as a freshman in 2013, scoring nine goals and tallying four assists. He recorded seven goals and two assists last season.

Stoddart has game experience, but like Gracia and Doerner knows there will be a slight learning curve jumping to Division I.

“The big difference is the speed of play,” Stoddart said. “Everything here is quick and serious. It’s not a big, huge jump or big adjustment but it’s something that I’m doing.”

With his success at Lewis and Clark, Stoddart feels confident he can help the Owls’ offense improve on its 13 goals scored last season.

“I’d say I’m a playmaker,” Stoddart said. “I can be a goal scorer. If I put it upon myself I can be a goal scorer. If I had to put a number on it I’d say [I’ll score] around eight to 10 goals this year.”

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