NPSL Combine Notebook, by Chris Walter

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Despite turning just 22 on Jan. 19, Chris Walter has played in four of FC Buffalo’s five seasons, amassing the most appearances in our club’s short history. His tough tackling and big crosses have earned him quite a fan following, and he was recognized with a spot on the MidWest team for the inaugural NPSL Combine this weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where there are scouts from everywhere from Sporting KC to the New York Cosmos to former English Premier League players and others.

We caught up with Chris after the first day of games, which saw the MidWest win 2-1 on a goal from FCB’s Bobby Ross, and good work from Walter and FCB teammates Jeff Thomas and Waleed Cassis. Chris started both halves and played 75 minutes at center mid, while Waleed went the distance in goal. Ross played 60 minutes at right and center back, while Jeff Thomas played almost an hour at outside mid.

Here’s Chris:

“When I got the call back a couple months ago about being selected for the combine, I was thrilled. It’s a great opportunity to go down, get out of the cold weather and see what it’s all about. Playing soccer in the sun is why we do it, why we enjoy playing.

“We got the nerves out at training on Friday. We had to get to the know the boys, how one and other plays. That was the main goal of training and we accomplished that.

“Saturday was the first game. The first 5-10 minutes everyone’s just a little nervous, there are people watching you and you wanna make a good impression.

C. Walter at Hartwick
C. Walter at Hartwick

“Once we settled down, we popped the ball around pretty good. They got a corner and there might’ve been a foul on Waleed, I didn’t see it, and they scored off it.

“It was a shame to go down 1-0 headed to the locker room. We had a talk and knew 1-0 was the toughest lead in soccer. We talked about chances and possession, and focusing on link-up play around the 18, some 1-2s to make the keeper work.

“Our first goal was a good set up play. I think everyone got a touch on it around the 18 and (Lansing United’s Brian) Cunningham slotted home.

“Soon after that FC Buffalo’s own Bobby Ross climbed up on a corner and smoked one past the keeper. We did what we had to do and we are ready for the championship tomorrow

“There’s a team dinner tonight with some great guest speakers, so all the boys are dressed up and dapper and ready for the night.”

Come back Sunday for another post after our boys hopefully bring home the title. For more on the NPSL Combine, head here.