Boyens talks about World Cup experience

Kiwi defender says has returned from South Africa a changed man

Andrew Boyens couldn’t get the smile off of his face on Monday
afternoon at the Red Bulls’ training facility at Montclair State University.
His watch was still set an hour back from traveling, but Boyens termed his time
in South Africa at the World Cup “one of the best moments of my life.”

New
Zealand was ousted from the first round after earning three draws but surprised
the world with their results.

On
Tuesday night, Boyens was in the starting XI for head coach Hans Backe as the
Red Bulls travelled to central Pennsylvania to play in the U.S. Open Cup
against a USL-2 side. Not quite the fan and media circus Boyens had been living
in the past month.

“From
South Africa to Harrisburg in a couple days,” Boyens laughingly told
MLSSoccer.com.

New
Zealand earned global respect with their performance, including a gutsy tie
with defending World Cup winners Italy. Boyens was pleased that people could
see “that we can play the game and at a very high level too.” He said he felt
an enormous sense of pride at being a part of the team and watching the matches
unfold.

He
credits the team’s spirit for the results.

“We’re
all wonderful mates on the team,” Boyens said. “We got along really well. I
think people saw that in how we played, in how we played for each other.”

Boyens
said that while away in South Africa, he closely monitored the MLS season,
receiving updates from teammates and following along with the Red Bulls’
progress online. He was excited to see the team turn things and win two matches
before the stop in play for the World Cup. There is no South Africa hangover
for Boyens, who is glad to be back.

“It’s
really good to be here, we have a wonderful club and are having such a great
season,” Boyens said. “This is a great group of guys too, and it’s good to be
back.”

The
central defender is hopeful that perhaps some Kiwis did well enough to play
themselves into position for European contracts … or MLS.

“That’s
one thing I’ve preached to the guys on the team, to come over here,” Boyens
said. “This is a good system for us to play and develop – from college on to
MLS – it’s a good system. I think more players would benefit from it.”

Boyens
did say that the trip to South Africa changed his view and outlook on the world
at large.

While
staying in what he called “an absolutely outstanding hotel” during the team’s
stay in South Africa, Boyens couldn’t help but notice the abject poverty that
surrounded him. Boyens would often notice the slums and shanty towns when the
team bussed to their group matches. He saw how people lived on the “other side”
and was struck with emotion.

“It
made me appreciate so much more what I have as a professional athlete and how I
live,” Boyens said. “I saw how others lived, especially those children, and I
just paused to think about my own life and how blessed I really am.”

Kristian Dyer is a reporter for MLSSoccer.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.  He can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at
twitter.com/kdyer1012