Offseason Q&A with Nigel Robertha

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How was the offseason for you? What were you up to?

“It was nice because I went to Amsterdam, where my family lives, and I hadn’t seen them for about 10 months or something. It was nice to be back, but on the other side, everything was closed in Amsterdam because of the pandemic. So basically, I was just locked in.”

You joined D.C. United in 2021, and before that, you played in the Netherlands and Bulgaria. What was the biggest difference you found between playing there and playing in MLS here in the US?

“If I compare the Netherlands with the MLS, I think the Netherlands is more technical, and the MLS is more physical—you have more physical players here. The Netherlands is more about the tactics.”

Do you think having the experience of playing in the Netherlands prepared you for MLS?

“Oh yeah. Because, as I said, the Netherlands is more technical. So that's what I was used to. And it's good to learn the other side, too. I learned a lot from last year, and I’m trying to be better this year.”

Was did you focus on improving from last season?

“I know that I got stronger during the offseason because that was something that I really wanted to focus on. I came back stronger physically. I think I also became smarter. I learned how to play against more physical defenders. Last year was my first year, so now I know the teams a little bit better, and I know how they play. I know the style of play. The first year, I would say it was more of a year to adapt, but this year I'm already off to a good start.”

How does it feel to be back with the team after the offseason?

“It was great because I was happy to be back with my family. But, I missed soccer too. That's your life. And we had a break, like eight weeks, so it was kind of long. In Europe, it’s different because you get like five weeks off in the summer, and then you get like two weeks off in the winter. So it's different. But now you get a break of eight weeks straight. So I would say it's too long.”

What has been the hardest part of training so far? The best part?

“I'll say the first day. The first day was pretty hard because we had a running test. That's what we started with. And the first day, we had a double session, too. So I'll say the first day was the hardest. The other days have just been cold. The sessions were still hard, but I also get in shape very quickly. Like, if I get like three days, it starts to get easier.”

“I enjoy every moment and every minute. It's just good to see other guys back in training. So I can’t really just pick one day.”

What do you think 2022 has in store for you and the team?

“That's a difficult question. As I said, I feel like I came back stronger, a lot wiser, more mature. I think I'm just ready to roll, and, of course, I will do my best this year.”

Your game day outfits are always on point. What inspires your game day fits? Or your style in general? (how do you pick your outfits?)

“I appreciate it. But, what inspired me? I don't know. I just pick something that I haven't worn yet, or that I really like. It depends on the day—if the weather is nice. I'll just pick something I’m feeling in the moment.”

What do you like to do whenever you have some free time during the season?

“When we are in season, my life is pretty boring. I guess people wouldn't even believe it. When I get off training, I would just be in the house. Sometimes I like to have dinner or something, but I don't go out like that because many players from the team, either they have their wife or they're too young. I’m single, and I like to go to sleep early too. So that's also a reason why I just stay in because basically, I'll be already in bed and asleep at 9:30 p.m. I have everything scheduled. I'll wake up early at like 4:30 a.m., and I'm trying to do yoga and read when I wake up. I have a couple of books in my apartment that I read. I'm just trying not to be too much on my phone.”

“I'm not going to lie, I wasn't doing all of that last year, but I was used to doing it. But last year, I had a little bit of a hard time because it was my first time being in the US, and I was away from my family. The time difference. So I didn't feel too comfortable last year. This year I was trying to do whatever I used to do back in Holland, such as reading books, doing yoga, sleeping early, and eating healthy.”

What can we expect to see from Nigel Robertha this year?

“A better version of myself. I will score a lot of goals, and I want to help the team as much as possible. So if that's scoring a lot of goals or providing assists, I want to do all that.”