US Soccer

Q&A: U-23 center back Sebastien Ibeagha

Dynamo Academy center back Sebastien Ibeagha recently completed his first training camp with Olympic head coach Caleb Porter and the U.S. U-23s. HoustonDynamo.com caught up with Ibeagha to talk about his experience in Sarasota.

HoustonDynamo.com: What has the experience at the camp been like?
Sebastien Ibeagha: It’s been a good experience. Almost everyone here is a professional soccer player so the level of play is much higher than what I am used to at the college game. It's been fun, though, and playing here has really forced me to step up my game.

HD: You guys played two intra-squad scrimmages at the camp. How were they?
Ibeagha: They were good. I was on the blue team for the first game and the white team for the second game. Both games my team won. Overall, I think I am holding my own. At first it was difficult, but I have adjusted to the speed of play which has helped me a lot. I think my biggest advantage is my size. I'm 6-foot-1 and am bigger than a lot of the guys. I'm very strong in the air and that helps in the games.

HD: How would you describe the level of play at the camp compared to what you are used to at college?
Ibeagha: It is definitely on a higher level here. In college, every player knows what they have to do but they might not always be able to do it. Here, everyone knows what they have to do, and they can do it.

HD: What was your initial reaction to the call-up? Were you surprised?
Ibeagha: I was definitely surprised. My teammate at Duke, Andrew [Wenger], had just signed with MLS and was being invited to the camp so I was excited to play again with him. It's exciting being one of only a handful of college players at the camp. I feel as if we are representing for the college game and showing that the level of players there is very high.

HD: Has the camp been more enjoyable having Andrew there with you?
Ibeagha: It has definitely helped. We were roommates here. At Duke, we played together for two years and this past year we were center back partners, so it's been fun having him here with me.

HD: As a Dynamo Academy player, did you have the opportunity to talk to any of the current Dynamo players (Kofi Sarkodie, Will Bruin and Danny Cruz) at the camp?
Ibeagha: I played with Will and Kofi during both scrimmages. I actually went to France with Kofi with the U-20s earlier this year so we have known each other for a while. I also know Will from the college game back when he was at Indiana. They are both good guys and have told me a lot of good things about Houston.

HD: You recently completed your sophomore season at Duke. Have you thought about what the next step is for you?
Ibeagha: As of right now, I want to finish my education. I am majoring in Earth and Ocean Sciences, with a minor in History and a certificate in Business Management. Getting my degree is very important to me and if the right opportunity comes along for soccer, I want to make sure I get as close as I can to completing my studies.

HD: This is your first time playing with head coach Caleb Porter. What has that experience been like?
Ibeagha: He is definitely a great coach. A lot of us like to play possession soccer where we spread the field out and he gives us the chance to do it. Everyone has bought into his system and we are doing the best we can.