Emerson, you left the States in order to pursue your dream of playing football in one of Europe’s biggest leagues. Having signed for Fulham, how has the move worked out for you so far?
I think it’s been great so far, I’m really enjoying my time in England. When I first came over it was tough, I can’t deny that, because there was so much to take in. But it had been my ambition to play in Europe for a very long time, so I was used to the fact that my life would be very different. There was a period of adjustment, but after a couple of months, Fulham just felt like my new home. The Academy looks after us boys, they took me in and made me feel very comfortable from the start which has allowed me to concentrate on my football.
So much so, you have impressed greatly this term and your form for the Under-18s saw you rewarded with inclusion in First Team training duties. What has that been like?
Well, first of all, it’s just such an incredible experience to be working with the Manager and senior players. I didn’t think that it would happen that quickly, but it has, and I’m very thankful of that. I know I have a long way to go before I’m training with them on a permanent basis, though, but it has given me another focus. I’ve trained with the First Team a few times now, and in football, it’s all about impressing someone.
Of course, you did train with the senior players at your former club FC Dallas didn’t you?
I did yes, and that was another great experience. I think I was about 14 or 15 when that happened, so I was even younger than I am now. I turn 17 next month, so it’s nice to have had moments like that. When you train with older players, who are quicker and stronger, you have to raise your game even further. It’s tough, but I love the challenge it brings.
To further underline what a positive season it has been for you personally, you’ve also lined up for USA Under-18s as well haven’t you?
I have, and representing my country is something I love doing. Anyone that gets the chance to do the same will agree – it’s a special occasion. It’s always something that I was hopeful of achieving, and the dream is to one day play for the senior USA team. I have to be playing well and training hard at Fulham, though, but all in all, it’s been a good season so far.
As mentioned, your early path in football was spent in Dallas, where there is a real Mexican influence. Has that stood you in good stead at Fulham?
I think it has, because Fulham is a club that encourages skill and technical ability. The Mexican influence had a big affect on me; it’s how I learned to move the ball in tight situations, turn opponents and link possession. That’s the kind of football that I’m used to, it’s all about creativity. Thankfully, Fulham appreciate those attributes, and if anything, have helped to develop it further.
You’ll be part of the Under-19 squad that take part in the 2012/13 Dr Pepper Dallas Cup which kicks off on Sunday. You must be excited about returning to your home city?
Of course, it’s one of the best tournaments in youth football, with teams from all over the world taking part. I played in it when I was younger with my team in Dallas, and always enjoyed being involved. The likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea have all entered over the years, as have Real Madrid, AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Ajax. You also get a lot of Brazilian, Argentine and Mexican teams too. So many top players featured when they were young, like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney. I remember watching the older boys in the elite groups when I was young and thinking how good the players were and that one day I’d love to be part of that – now I have that chance. The competition is fierce, but hopefully we can show what we’re capable of.
And how have you described Dallas a location to your teammates and coaches?
I love Dallas, it’s my home city. I’m looking forward to their visit and hopefully they will like it. Obviously, we’re going there to play football and to try and bring a trophy back with us – so it’s serious business. It’s a very welcoming place, though, and I’m sure we’ll receive a warm welcome. The weather should be good too, so it will be nice to see a bit of sun.
Fulham have a big following in the States, and that connection has largely come as a result of a number of your countrymen lining up for the Whites...
That’s true, there have been quite a few Americans that have pulled on the Fulham shirt and run out at the Cottage and one day it would be nice to do the same. Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, Eddie Johnson and, more recently, Clint Dempsey have all played here. Dempsey is possibly the most successful American player ever, so he’s a tough act to follow. It’s funny how I’m the only American player on the Club’s books now, but I aspire to be just like those guys – to play for the First Team would be a dream.
And finally, Emerson, your grandfather Schellas Hyndman is of course one of America’s most respected coaches isn’t he? He currently oversees FC Dallas in the MLS...That’s right, and as a family we’re very proud of him. He was a very successful college coach and then in 2008 he was made head coach at FC Dallas. In 2010 they got to the MLS Cup Final, which was massive, although, unfortunately they lost to Colorado Rapids. We have a great relationship and he gives me a lot of advice. He once said that when I’m not training, someone else will be. That basically means that if you stand still, someone will overtake you.