A Full Circle Journey from Academy to College to Professional
A Full Circle Journey from Academy to College to Professional
We love Eddie Munjoma’s story.
“My dad is one of the biggest influences for me playing soccer.” Eddie’s dad played for the Zimbabwe National Team, so the love of the sport is in his blood.
Faith, consistency, and hard work lead the way for Eddie every day. We talk about how being a part of the FC Dallas Academy boosted his soccer career and gave him the opportunities to play in college and now continue as a professional. Hearing Eddie share memories of big moments in his young USMNT career so far and his collegiate career at SMU, you can hear how much he respects and enjoys the game.
Enjoy episode #54 featuring Eddie Munjoma. And, listen to more episodes from the Hustle & Pro archives.
- [00:28] Quick Hits
- [04:16] Eddie’s Dad’s Impact
- [05:53] SMU & the Sweet 16 OT
- [11:35] #FCHW
- [12:45] FC Dallas Academy & Full Circle Path
- [16:00] Old Teammates & New Fans
Resources within this episode:
- FC Dallas: Website | Facebook: FC Dallas | Instagram: @fcdallas | Twitter: FCDallas
- Eddie Munjoma: Bio | Twitter
- SMU Soccer Website
- FCD Academy Website
- Kelly Walker: Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to Hustle and Pro season two talking sports in Frisco from youth to pro. Now here’s your host, Kelly Walker.
Today on hustle and pro, we have a homecoming story. Eddie Munjoma is a local, he came up through the FC Dallas Academy system, headed to play for his dream school SMU and just signed a pro contract with none other than FC Dallas. Hi Eddie.
Thanks for coming in. I’m excited to get to know you.
Of course. Thanks for having me.
So let’s do a couple of icebreakers off the top and then we’ll get into it. So who’s your favorite athlete of all time?
That’s a, that’s a tough one. Um, I mean, I’d obviously probably lean more towards soccer. Um,
you could give me a non soccer and a soccer answer. Yes.
Okay. Yeah, I’ll do that. I’ll do that. Um, let’s see. All time. I’m a big Muhammad Ali fan. Um, I mean I think everything he’s done for just his sport and just his character in general speaks for herself. Um, obviously I didn’t, I wasn’t around during his prime of his career, but yeah, I got the chance to like watch a couple of his clips when he was, you know, doing the amazing things that he did. Um, so definitely all time. I would say Muhammad Ali, as far as soccer, that’s also a tough one.
We get a lot of Messi in here sometimes. So do you like Messi?
I do, but I might be a little different. I probably prefer Ronaldo a little more. Um, I really appreciate just his work ethic and just his drive to always want to be the best. Yes. Although, yes. Um, yeah, probably been a fan of his for I’d say six, seven years now. Um, but I mean I also love Messi. Messi is there. I mean he’s amazing as well.
They kind of go back and forth. Right. They play off of each other of course. What about superstitions? So do you personally have game day superstition or anything that’s interesting to tell us about?
Uh, I mean, I think in general, like, I dunno, I could try to keep a similar, like schedule everything. I do. Um, I want to make sure, like I eat breakfast, depending on what time the game is. Like let’s say the game is around like six or seven. Um, I wanna make sure I have my breakfast by like nine-ish. Uh, and then I want to have a snack before I eat kind of a pregame meal around 3:30. Um, I guess when it comes to precision and I’m kinda like really specific with like the times that I wanted to your schedule. Right. Yeah. Um,
Is that just for consistency purposes so that you don’t get thrown off your body’s ready?
Yeah, and I think just for my personal state of mind, like I want to make sure I did this at this time and so on and so forth. So I guess that’s kind of my main superstition. Just kind of making sure I keep, uh, the schedule that I want.
Yeah. Okay. What about sports? Movies? What is your favorite sports movie?
That’s another tough one. Um, I’ll do one that’s not soccer and then one that is soccer. Okay. Um, a non soccer one I really liked, uh, Like Mike, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it.
Yeah, I haven’t not seen it.
You haven’t seen it? I haven’t. It’s, it’s really good at highly recommend. Um, yeah, I watched the first for the first time when I was really, really young, but it’s just an instant classic to me. Like anytime it’s on, like I’m always going to my watch list. I definitely, I definitely recommend. Um, and then soccer, there’s a series a goal. Um, I think the first one is called goal. The dream begins. And then the second one is goal two, living the dream, something like that. Um, that’s probably one of the better soccer movies I’ve watched.
Is it a movie or is it following a team? Like documentaries? No, it’s a movie. It’s like, it’s a fake story about a player that, uh, grows up in LA. Um, he ends up going to England playing for New Castle, and then in the second movie he transferred from Newcastle to go to [inaudible]. Um, but yeah, I’d probably say that’s probably one of the better soccer movies I’ve watched.
Okay. Well now I have three to add to my watch list. You surprise me. I have no, no, those. Thank you.
Oh, of course.
Okay. Let’s start, um, with the genuine love of soccer that you have. So I’ve been kind of reading some of the things you’ve put out there that your dad coached you from like age four to 11. Um, so tell me about him and how kinda he supported you and how much you love this sport.
Yeah. Um, I mean it speaks for herself. My dad’s probably one of the biggest influences as far as, um, me playing soccer. Uh, yeah, he started coaching me when I was four. Um, the very first team he coached me, it was called the ninjas actually. Uh, we were pretty, I mean it was just a local team in McKinney. We’re kind of just messing around is we were classmates in school and then also just formed a team outside to play in like the local, um, like recreational league. Um, but yeah, he coached me. He was obviously the first one introduced me to the game. Um, he has a background of playing as well. Um, so I mean he’s obviously been super hard on me, um, which has at times been, you know, kind of annoying, kind of frustrating, but at the same time it’s obviously helped me to get to the point I am now.
So same time, did he grow up playing? So you, you were born in McKinney and you grew up around here, right?
Dallas. Um, but yeah, I did grow up in McKinney. I moved to Dallas probably when I was three years old.
Did your dad play around this area?
No, my dad’s actually of African descent. Um, he played in Zimbabwe, which is, um, also my home country. Um, and he actually played with like the U 17 national team, UAT national team. So like he has, you know, yeah, we’ve got a high level. He followed in his footsteps. Yeah, for sure.
That’s amazing. Okay, so you earned a spot at SMU. So I’ve, I’ve, or I’ve read your letter to SMU and that’s awesome. I love how much you have the passionate about being there. Um, and you just finished up, they’re not all that long ago. So you had four successful years there, right?
So one of the things that, so I read that you are all American first college soccer news in just 2019 like this just yesterday. Um, but then you won the Herman. Okay. Mack Herman, is that right? Yes. Right, right, right. 2019. Mack Herman, you are a semifinalist. Okay. So none other than Luci Gonzalez. You’re now head coach one that back in 2001, so that’s pretty cool. Um, have you gotten to talk to Luci about that?
Uh, no. I actually haven’t actually haven’t, but I mean once I got the, uh, once I got, or once I found out that I was, uh, Herman semi-finalists, it was definitely one of the things I thought about. Um, just the last person actually when the Herman was at SMU as well. And, um, I dunno, during like during the way the season was going for us at the time, like I wasn’t really thinking about, um, am I going to win the Herman, I was just more focused on us doing well and obviously trying to achieve our goal of winning the national championship. So I wasn’t really thinking much about, um, am I actually gonna win this thing. But I mean it is pretty cool that the last person who won it was Luci.
Yeah. Very cool. And now he’s, yeah, that’s a really, I think that’s so neat. It’s part of that whole homecoming story that I love. So I hear there’s this sweet 16 over time moment that you talk about. So tell me about that.
Oh boy. That, I mean, I get, I’ve, I’ve been asked to tell that story a lot and, well, hold on.
I said over time, I know it’s really stoppage time and I dunno, I dunno what you call it. Inside and college level soccer.
Yeah. With college there is like that overtime.
Okay. Okay. I didn’t want you to think I didn’t, I didn’t know what that means, so yeah. Sorry, go ahead.
You’re good. Yeah. Uh, it was crazy. Um, we played against, uh, we played against UCF who for the past three seasons were probably one of our biggest rivals. Um, domestically in our conference. They always gave us a good flight and that was always a game that we would always circle on our calendar. Um, when the schedule came out. So credit to them, they were an amazing team. Um, their coach did a very good job with them and they always gave us a very, very good battle. Um, it was questionable how we got paired against each other in the sweet 16 to begin with. Um, just of the way the seating worked and how NCAA put us against each other. Like he shouldn’t have been again, seeing each other that early. Yeah, I really don’t think so, but I mean it is what it is. Um, but yeah, the game was tied. They actually scored first it was Cal Jennings, uh, who scored on us in the first few minutes or so. And then we answered back. It was one, one and a time. And then it was one one all the way up until the, the 90th minute. Um, it was a lot of back and forth and I mean we’re both, both us and UCF, we’re both teams that like to play, like to keep possession and stuff. So it was a really good soccer game. Um, but tied one wine at the end of regulation. Yes. Tied one one. Uh, so then we come in over time and I’m thinking like the game right before UCF, we also went to overtime. Um, and we stayed in, uh, we did like both, um, both halves of overtime and that game previous South sticking here goes like another set of 20 minutes or so. Um, but I mean, I was confident we were gonna win, whether it was me who scored or whoever, like I was pretty confident in how we’re playing that we’re going to win that game. We’re at home, we’re in front of our fans. Um, I felt like this is, this is our moment. Um, but yeah, it was, took a matter of, I think it was 18 seconds.
Oh, wow. Okay. And yeah, you score the question.
Sure. Yeah. I scored a, one of the center mids play me a ball in and I kind of just ran onto it and shot it for posts and in college, like the rules work, like as soon as someone scores over time, the game’s over. It’s like golden goal. Yeah. So I mean, yeah, the celebrations afterwards.
Oh, I bet. So, but you’re a defender. Yeah. Yes. So is it common, like are you the kind of player that’s going to go run up? And I mean, I don’t know if you, I don’t think by looking at you, are you the tallest one on the field and that’s your role? Or are you just, is that your nature is that you’re going to be playing up in a moment like that?
Um, I think for me personally, I think other people in my position probably don’t have the same, uh, the same attacking mindset that I have. Um, I grew up like during the time my dad was coaching me when I was younger, I was an attacking player. Like I was a winger, I was a striker, so I grew up already attack minded. Um, I came into FC Dallas in the Academy and they kind of transformed me into an outside back, but I still kind of had that attacking mindset. Um, so yeah, I brought that with me everywhere I went and I brought a tested mew and, um, the goals I scored my senior year were just credit to, you know, kind of my mindset. I’ve always wanted to go forward and wanting to attack even though was still doing my defensive duties.
I love that as an FC Dallas fan, I’m excited to hear that. That’s fun. It’s always fun. I mean obviously in, in, you know, extra time when, but it’s, it’s unexpected when a defender gets to come up and do that. Like we’ve seen Ryan Hollingshead get to do that a few times and it’s always just a fun, you know, twist. So I’m excited to get to see more of that attacking nature and our backline back there.
Thank you. I am too.
All right, so tell me what, um, hashtag FCHW means to you? That is something that, well, first of all, I think it might be some type of like brand or something like that. I’m really going to get the thing out there, but yeah. But that’s just something, uh, I really like to live by. Um, I’m really, I’m really close with my faith. Um, that’s something that I value a lot and I think it’s very important and I just think it’s, it’s something that has again, brought me to where I am. I’m now just kind of plugging into that. Um, and then consistency is something that I always want to achieve. I think it’s something that, um, if I can be more consistent and it’s not just in soccer, but all years of life, I’m just consistent to who I am. I think it’s obviously something they’ll help me be successful. Um, and then hard work. I mean, that just speaks for herself. You can’t get anywhere without working hard. And, um, obviously that’s something that I’m obviously in a position that I am now because of a bunch of hard work.
Yeah, it’s a good daily reminder or however you know, you use that. But I am not familiar with it. So I see you tweeting it and I love that. FCHW I think that’s cool. Okay. So your path has, you know, we’ve seen it come full circle now. Um, you were the 27th homegrown to sign with FC Dallas and the 37th Academy player for MSCI Dallas to go pro in general. So Dan hunt says that you are part of this special generation of players that really, you know, in that 17 to 23 year old kind of range, it was kind of born out of this first round of Academy players. So how do you describe this system that you are one of the, at the forefront of,
I mean, are you speaking like just from FC Dallas? [inaudible]
Yeah, I mean really how it’s shaped even, you know, as you went into college and back, but I mean, yeah, you’re one of the few, um, that is, that we’ve seen followed that path. Um, so I just, you know, from your standpoint, how do you see this development and Academy league?
Um, well I think the Academy league is always something that I think any player, um, kind of going up through middle school, high school, I think that’s something that players who want or have those aspirations of being professional, I think that’s something that they really consider and they really want to, um, achieve. And I mean, whenever I joined the Academy, um, it was something that at the beginning they actually, they called it pre Academy at the beginning, whenever it first started with FD Dallas, like age group, what it was you 13. Um, I don’t know if it’s still the same thing, but yeah, at that time that’s what it was called. And I didn’t really know much about it. I had known about FC Dallas Academy at like the older ages of like you 16, you 18. Um, but at the beginning they just called it pre Academy and, but I started realizing more and more that it’s just, it’s a system that’s trying to, you know, bring players up into developing them into first team players. Um, so I was very thankful to be in that situation. Not many people have that opportunity. Not just actually dollars, but other MLS clubs as well. Um,
When you were coming up through it, you probably didn’t know how well we do that here locally compared to others. Right. I mean it’s probably not a thing for 15 year olds like that actually already live here. That this is one of the best places you could be.
Exactly. Yeah. I had actually had [inaudible] no idea. Um, I started playing or pref or before coming to a FC Dallas Academy, I was with a local club called Andromeda. Um, and the, that club kind of like disbanded and um, a lot of us ended up having to go to FC Dallas. But I had no knowledge about what FC Dallas Academy was. I had no idea at the time I was just thinking about I was going to stick with my team and we were just going to go to FC Dallas. Like the club in general. I had no idea like what Academy was. So it was really cool to, you know, join that system and we had tryouts and everything and there are a lot of people there that I’d played with in played or played with and against throughout like, you know, normal youth leagues growing up. And it was nice to like see them again and stuff cause everyone is competing for the same thing. So that was obviously a really enjoyable moment. And like I said, being a part of that Academy was amazing and I can’t stress enough how much it helped me to be, you know, not only a good player but a good person as well.
Do you have a current players that now that you’re back, I know it’s fresh, you just came back, but do you have anybody that you’re playing with now that came through the system locally here with you or any of your old club players still hanging in there with you?
I mean there’s still, there’s a couple of club players, uh, like Reggie, we played together.
Oh you did? Okay. Paxton as well. Oh I didn’t know that. Okay. Yeah, we all played together. Just those two. Yeah. Just, you know, Brandon Servania at times he saw those national team players. Yeah.
All the, all the great, great players right now. Um, yeah, I was fortunate enough to play with them and obviously at that time it was just us, you know, being buddies. But we’re winning championships and doing well for the club’s history as far as the Academy level. So that was obviously very, you know, very enjoyable and very inspirational for the rest of the club as well.
So when you, when you play with guys like Reggie impacts he and you said Brandon? Yes. Um, I say Paxi, he probably didn’t like that. I don’t know him well enough to have a nickname like that for him on, on the air. But um, when you play with them and then you go off to school, right. I mean, I know you were only in Dallas, but like you’re gone from, you know, playing with them on a regular basis. Do you keep up with them? Of course. So like when it’s time for you to come back, I don’t know if you always knew you were going to come back, but did you always keep the relationship with those guys?
For sure. Uh, we had, uh, we had actually a group, like a group chat of all of our, uh, our last, the last U18 team that won the national championship. We have a group chat with all of us together. We still keep in touch even now. Um, but as far as impacts, I always stayed in touch with them cause I kept coming back here in the summer to train with them whenever college was on, off season. So I still kept seeing them at least once a year for a period of time. I never really knew for sure if I was actually gonna come back. I knew that was something I wanted to do, but I was never a hundred percent certain cause I mean, you know, the way things work in the soccer world, anything can happen, right?
You never know that the door might be closed. You just never know. So if that, if it didn’t happen, what was your other plan? Uh, the other plan since I was in college, the other plan was to answer the drafts, um, and see who you know, who’s willing to take me there. I think after, for sure my last senior season, I had a good chance to be taken early, um, in terms of like the rounds and checks in that thing. But uh, yeah, like I never, like I said, I was never 100% sure that I was going to come back here, but I knew it was something I wanted to do for sure.
Teammates from SMU that are going to be, uh, playing against you, like a dynamo maybe. Right. So is that going to be, that’s going to be new for you playing at the pro level with some of your collegiate level teammates?
Oh, of course. Yeah, of course. It’ll be fun for sure. Just seeing them again. Um, but yeah, playing in similarly will be even more enjoyable. And it’s not just a Garrett that I played with, but other people I played against during the whole collegiate, uh, three and a half years I was there. It’s obviously gonna be enjoyable and it’s good to see that they’re also being successful after leaving the [inaudible].
Yeah, of course. What number are you going to wear for FC Dallas?
I will be wearing 27. Yes.
Okay. I was curious because I also have to give a shout out to my husband is the same birthday as you. Oh really? July 18th babies, right. Oh perfect. However, July 18th, when you were born in 98, you’re 21. Um, my husband and I had already met, we’ve met on literally on a soccer field, um, in college. You weren’t even born yet. And so that next year in 98 when you were born, so you instantly have a fan, a big fan when you’re playing here at FC Dallas. My husband, Ryan, so he’ll already, so he will, um, whether you are, uh, on the starting 11 or coming in as a sub, we sit over by the on the corner flag by the, where the subs warm up and so you will always hear a big clap and a cheer for you from him because you guys are birthday buddies, so perfect.
Hopefully you’ll get to meet soon. Oh yeah, he’s over around. He’ll, he’ll always come up. Um, that’s FC Dallas is really good about player access to the fans. Yeah. I mean we’ve been season ticket holders for, I don’t know, seven, eight, nine years or so. So, um, we get to go to all those fun things where they allow fans to come meet you guys. So meet and greets and autograph sessions and um, training. Sometimes we get to go watch training sessions or you know, preseason games, all kinds of things. So he will definitely come say hi and shake your hand and remind you that you guys have the same birthday. I’m sure. Well Eddie, it was really nice to meet you and to get to know you. I love your story and, um, I love that, that it’s really full circle for you and excited to watch you out on the field this season.
Thank you. Thank you. I’m always excited to get started and thank you again for having me.
Yeah, so good luck and we’ll be rooting for you. So thank you for joining us today on Hustle and Pro. Make sure you subscribe on iTunes so you can find out about our upcoming episode.