Rodney Wallace: “You have to slow it down and remember where you are and literally what brought you to where you are.” (Photo courtesy of NYCFC)
By Michael Lewis
Playing only nine minutes and one game for Costa Rica in the World Cup hardly diminished Rodney Wallace’s enthusiasm the past month.
The New York City FC forward made sure he enjoyed every second of what could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It was awesome. Unbelievable experience,” he said at a World Cup party hosted by the Major League Soccer club and Telemundo Deportes at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan Tuesday. “It’s the World Cup. There’s nothing like it. For me to be able to be there and represent my country was an unbelievable experience.”
The 30-year-old Wallace came on in the waning moments of the Ticos’ 2-2 draw with Switzerland in the final Group G match for both teams June 27. According to FIFA.com, he ran a little more than a mile in his short time on the field.
Understanding that it probably will be his only World Cup appearance — Wallace will be 34 for Qatar 2026 — he just soaked it all in and embraced the moment.
“You have to slow it down and remember where you are and literally what brought you to where you are,” he said. “It was good to be centered and focused on where I was and enjoy the moment aside from the results and the training and what the media would say. Things like that were non-factors on how I felt inside. I wasn’t going to let anything really rattle me.”
Wallace did not play against Brazil, which defeated the Ticos, 2-0 on June 22. Yet, that was an experience in itself. It was important for Wallace and his teammates not to be in awe of the five-time world champions.
“Those are guys you watch on TV,” he said. “Those are guys that are huge players. They make the game exciting and, to be honest, it was a pleasure to be out there and sharing those experience with the rest of the guys. Obviously, we wanted to go out there and get a result, we weren’t just there to admire these guys and just ball watch. We had our opportunities vs Brazil but the be able to be on the field with just big players tells you a lot about where you are in your career. You’re on the field with the best of the best.”
He said liked Brazil’s and Belgium’s chances in the tournament as the squads will tussle in the quarterfinals in Kazan Friday.
“That’s a hard question,” he said. “Right now, Brazil has a very good chance. I want Belgium to do well, but there’s a bunch of teams that could get it done.”
Wallace said he brought his family along which “was cool to have them there.”
“It was another highlight of my trip just being able to share those special moments with them,” he added.
Now, of course, Wallace realized that he must focus on NYCFC, which has a key home game against the Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium in the Hudson River Derby Sunday at 7 p.m.
Asked what he could bring back to NYCFC from the World Cup, Wallace, replied, “It’s a whole different level. That month gives you a lot of experience. You learn a lot on the field and off the field. You have to manage games differently. At the end of the day, it’s a whole different competition and you take bits and pieces from the World Cup and try to apply them here.”
He hopes will be get a chance Sunday.