CARSON, Calif. -- Thirty minutes after TFC's 3-2 win over David Beckham . . . I mean the L.A. Galaxy, I'm leaning against a wall in the bowels of the Home Depot Center, watching the visitors' locker room clear out. I'm one of three reporters waiting for Amado Guevara to emerge from the shower.
After a courtship that dates back to last year, then a single practice with the club, he suited up Sunday and tried to bring some of this magic to TFC.
And after a debut that saw him break down L.A.'s defence with long, accurate passes, he's taking his time to come talk to us.
A dangerous habit.
At a night game a dawdling athlete sends reporters under deadline pressure into temper tantrums.
Yeah, newspapers are a dying medium, but right now they're still paying our bills. And as long as they are, deadlines will matter. The later guys decide to give interviews, the later we file our stories, and that makes things sticky for us. Missing a deadline is like missing a penalty kick.
But Sunday's noon kickoff had us all in an easy mood.
We had time.
And Guevara took it.
Finally, when nothing remained in the locker room except a mess, and a few TFC staffers trying to clean it up, Guevara appeared.
I approached this interview a little wearily. Like every other reporter covering the MLS, I'd heard Guevara's abrasive.
Now before you go bashing Cathal for bashing Guevara, understand that he's not the only writer to express concerns over Guevara's temperament. ESPN.com's soccer columnist Ives Galarcep said it, too.
But Sunday afternoon he seemed friendly and open.
I figured out pretty quickly that even if he has a habit of yelling at refs, and sometimes clashes with coaches, Guevara will talk all day to the media.
Now I took some Spanish in high school, and when I lived in the U.S. I spent countless evenings watching Boxeo Telemundo. In a year on the soccer beat I've learned that what we call a field (excuse me, "pitch"), Latinos call a "cancha." I know that "header" is a "cabezoso" and that "Golazo" translates roughly into "big-ass goal."
Between that and listening to a lot of salsa I've come to understand more than a little Spanish.
So as Guevara spoke I caught every third word, but by the time I'd translate it into English in my head he'd already be on to the next topic.
Not a good way to get quotes.
Luckily, Jaime Cardenas of the L.A. Times was around to translate for me.
As friendly as Guevara seems, he made clear he's still got the stubborn streak that can irritate coaches. He could have come to Toronto last spring, but when Mo Johnston tried to trade for him he elected to head back to Honduras and play there.
He didn't feel like being told where to play.
"I felt like people with Chivas were forcing me, and nobody forces me (to do anything)," he said. "I do, first of all, what God said, and then what I feel.”
He's only been to Canada once, as a member of the Honduran national team, but says his teammates tell him great things about Toronto. And, like everyone else in MLS, he's eager to play at BMO Field.
"I want to play in front of a packed stadium," he said. "You know, us Latinos, we love that stuff. We love to see our fan base support us. I know that with this result they are going to get even more excited. We are going to feel more at home. And, if the fans get excited so should the team.”
By that time TFC staffers informed us that the bus was about to leave, so the interview needed to end. As he zipped up his jacket, spritzed on some cologne he and I had a short exchange.
I explained to him that my Spanglish is on point, pero mi español es todavia un poco débil. He told me his English is about as shaky as my Spanish is.
Works for me. At least we're equals.
Through Cardenas he also suggested that he'd be willing to learn more English . . . but it would help if I learned more Spanish.
Sounds fair enough. Reporter and athlete meeting in the middle, and a fine stat line for Guevara.
One game, one assist and one compromise.
And they said he was stubborn.
-- Morgan Campbell