Timo Mehlich: Rio Grande Valley, developing my game and playing against Pulisic

You signed for Rio Grande Valley FC in January 2020. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how you describe club such as Rio Grande FC?

So far my time at the club has been really good except for the Corona-virus going on and it has put a break on my first season. At the beginning of the year I was fortunate to make my professional debut but that unfortunately remains the only game we got to play in the USL Championship and right after the home opener against LA Galaxy II the season got put on hold. Here at Rio Grande Valley FC we have a great stadium, we have great fans and I think the connection with Houston is really important which is also a big factor why I decided to sign for the club. I

talked to the people at Houston Dynamo and Tab Ramos the coach and everything they said sounded really good and that it would be a really nice place to be. I like the coaches here and the whole pathway just seems like the right fit for me and it has been a great journey so far and I am hoping to get back to playing again soon.

You spent four years in the youth setup at Borussia Mönchengladbach. How do you look back on your time at the club and did you learn anything in particular that stood you in good stead for your career as a professional footballer?

Yes, Obviously growing up at Borussia Mönchengladbach it was always my dream to play for the academy and I was always in contact with the coaches from an early age and I decided to join the club at aged 14 and it is training and playing at the highest level.

When you start at a young age the coaches hold you responsible and try to get the best out of you and at that point I realized how many great players were at the club and we would have championships during the season.

We would also tournaments where we would compete against the best young players and those players have gone on to play in the big European Leagues. I think that the common thing in European football is that you get taught tactical and technical things at a really young age and that really helped me especially coming over here to the United States and having that technical and tactical base was really important and I learned that at a really young age and I am grateful for the opportunities.

You played for the under 23 team of OKC Energy. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any special memories or highlights?

I had played a pretty good first college season where I won ‘Freshman of the Year’ and I made quite a name for myself during that first year and I received some good offers but since the summer break is so long during the summer for college players there is no way that I can go three months without playing so after receiving offers.

I did not really know anyone at OKC Energy but it seemed like a good fit and I ended up playing with some great players and currently the two other guys that got drafted Luka Prpa and Garrett McLaughlin both played with me in the under 23 team of OKC Energy and that was quite a coincidence.

I was also one of the younger players one of four of five freshman and we had a lot of international players too from England and it was a high level and it was my second team in the United States after my college team UNLV Rebels and it is also a different environment.

Credit: UNVL Athletics

I trained with the first team of OKC Energy who play in the USL Championship and I am thankful for the memories and opportunities that I had there and I played some good games.

However, I told the coach that I needed some time in Germany because it was my first year in the UnIted States and I had got a little homesick at that time and I wanted to stay in shape and get some good games by practicing with the pro’s and then spend a couple of weeks with my family in order to get the energy for the new season in college.

You are still young and you have accrued good experience in your native Germany and the United States, could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

I played with some very good players in Germany and one of my favourite ones is my best friend Johannes Dörfler and he signed with Bundesliga team SC Paderborn last season and I always felt that he was criminally underrated during his youth career and he finally got the attention that he deserved because he is a very pacy winger and it was always fun playing with him.

I played with other great players during my Borussia Mönchengladbach academy days and there was a number ten named Ba-Muaka Simakala and he was a great player. Then coming to the United States one of the player would be Danny Musovski who has gone on to sign for LAFC. I enjoyed playing alongside so many good players and when training with the first team players and watching them train and their deliveries and that helped me a lot and I am hoping I can add to that going forward in my career.

I can imagine in your position as a midfielder that you have come up against some difficult opponents could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability so far in your career?

Yes, even though we was not quite my direct opponent during my last youth year in Germany I against Christian Pulisic and he was just really nice, you could tell even at that time that he was going to be a great player because here was this super quick , nice feet and great touches so he was definitely one that stood out for me.

Another player is Benjamin Henrichs and he used to be a number ten when we played against each other in the youth when he played for Bayer Leverkusen but now he is an outside right for AS Monaco and also Thilo Kehrer is a defender for PSG and I played against him when he was at Schalke 04 and they are some of the players in my youth career that really stand out because they were so impressive and I always remember those guys and I even took pictures with some of them and they those players in particular were really tough to play against for sure.

Finally Timo, you have been on a great journey so far in your career could you say who are the coaches and mangers that have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

I like to think of myself as played who like to take away something from every coach that I play under and my very first coach Olaf Held of my hometown team, he was the reason why I never wanted to leave for an academy because I wanted to stay for the coach and with my friends and Olaf was one of the guys that got me into football and I played under him from the age of five to 13 years of age.

Play for an academies you pretty much switch coaches every year and it is important that you adjust to them because there are different coaches that want different things. I had some great coaches in the academy but I would say what had a really big impact on me and what really helped me was when I left the academy at Borussia to play my under 19 Bundesliga years for another team and I had just returned from a bad back injury and I was not very confident and I was feeling a little bit down due to my injury and my coaches Marcel Winkens and Chris Coersten gave me a good start and I went on to play a great season under them and I believe that was a turning point in my career.

Credit: UNLV Athletics

My head college coach at UNLV Rebels Richard Ryerson gave me the opportunity to play in the United States and he really helped me to develop along with his great coaching staff including Frank D’Amelio who was a former player and he really put his heart into it and Cammy Valencia too and particularly in my college years at UNLV Rebels.

Liam Connors was my college coach and I really forged a good bond with all the coaches and got to know them well and we still talk on a regular basis and they all congratulated me when I got drafted and I really appreciated their help. I have never had a bad bond with any coach and I am thankful to every coach that I have played under and every coach that helped me and I believe that every coach played a part in making me that player I am today.

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