Before Tony Tchani was lacing up his boots with the likes of Thierry Henry and Rafa Márquez in New York, he was just a college kid, plying his trade at the University of Virginia. At one of the best college soccer programs in the nation, Tchani needed just two seasons to become one of the most sought after prospects in the country, and the Red Bulls were fortunate enough to select him with the second overall pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft. One of the main reasons for Tchani’s rise in stature was his hand in helping Virginia to the 2009 National Championship. Earlier this week, he and his Cavalier teammates took a special visit to Washington D.C., and ultimately were honored at the White House.
Tchani (right) and Colorado's Ross LeBeaux (left) were honored at the White House (Virginia Media Relations).
"We got there by two o'clock, and went straight to the Capitol," Tchani said. "We went for a tour around all of D.C. We saw so many places; I can't even remember all of them."
The sightseeing tour of the nation's capital may have been a whirlwind for Tchani, but the culmination of the afternoon, the visit to the White House, was even more memorable. The Cavaliers were presented in front of President Barack Obama, who gave a five minute speech before meeting the players individually.
"It was nice, seeing him pretty close," Tchani said of his handshake greeting with President Obama. "I took a couple of pictures, it was really awesome."
For Tchani, the trip was not only a once in a lifetime chance to visit the White House, it was also a great opportunity for him to connect with his former teammates, some of whom he hadn't seen since he was drafted. Tchani arrived in Virginia late Monday, and had to return to New York Tuesday for training with the Red Bulls. It was a short reunion.
"It was nice, but it wasn't enough," Tchani said of the abbreviated gathering. "It was not even a full day. Hopefully after the season I can go back and spend a few days there."
Tchani has become a fabric of the Red Bulls midfield in his rookie season. In his rookie campaign, Tchani has a goal and two assists in 21 games, including setting up the game-winner this past weekend against Colorado. Tchani led his team to the College Cup less than a year ago on the collegiate level, and he hopes to be part of another title-winning side this season. For now, he can brag to his teammates about meeting the President. But he hopes this Tuesday wasn't his only trip to the White House.
"Hopefully when we win MLS Cup, I can get to go back," Tchani said.