Trinidad and Tobago international defender, Mekeil Williams, is looking forward to his first taste of MLS, having played soccer in Poland and Guatemala. Richard Clarke sat down with the offseason signing, and discovered that soccer was a passion from a very young age.
Tell us why you’re called Mekeil “Splash” Williams.
Splash was the nickname of my father. Some of the older guys that knew him started calling me 'Young Splash', and after a while, the name just stuck with me. I have no idea why they called him Splash but they still call me by that name.
Tell us about your football career so far.
For me, it has been awesome. It’s all been a learning experience and I think it helped to shape the player that I am today. Starting off in Trinidad, you had to learn how to be a professional and what it takes to be a professional. Moving on to Poland, I was taking it to a higher level. I’m going to continue and go from strength to strength. It’s all just been amazing.
What was it like growing up in Trinidad as a footballer?
For me, I’ve been playing soccer since I was a young kid. I would wake up in the morning and start playing in the yard by myself and the neighbors would come play and start making so much noise. One day my father took me to play in a youth league in the Savannah [Park], and I just continued from there. For me, I was told that it came naturally to me. I always loved it, I enjoyed it. I just continued going from strength to strength to the school’s league and then professionally. For me, it just came naturally.
When you were younger playing with your friends who did you pretend to be? Which player?
I liked Ronaldinho a lot. I don’t know why really. For me, he was just different class. He would stand out among his peers so easily. He was just amazing and I always liked him.
How much pride do you have in playing for your country’s national team?
For a long while, I’ve been looking forward to getting into the team and to try and establish myself and become a starter. As a young kid growing up, that was one of the goals that I had set for myself; to be a national player and to continue to do that.
What was your first reaction when you heard the Rapids were interested in you?
To be honest, I was really excited because I’ve been looking forward to coming to MLS. It happened so suddenly and caught me off guard, but all in all, I was excited. I’m looking forward to it.
How has preseason been for you?
Preseason has been great. The team has been doing well. We’ve been working on pressing when we lose the ball to recover the ball. We’ll clean up when we have the ball and are playing and being confident. The intensity and everything has been great.
How does your size help your ability to play as a fullback?
Most wingers are small and crafty so sometimes I have the edge on them when it comes to strength and height or winning the ball out of the air over them. It’s an advantage for me sometimes.
Do you see yourself as an offensive left back or a defensive left back?
I would see myself as a more defensive left back, but at times I do get forward. I get forward sometimes in attack.
Have you got targets for this season?
Definitely. I think each player needs to set targets for themselves. Being a newcomer to the league, I would like to see myself as a starter getting a couple of games in, and just try to establish myself as a good player.
How much did you know about MLS before you came?
I watched the league. I have a couple of friends who have been playing in the league before so I’ve been following the league. I see a lot of top players coming to the league right now. So I’ve been interested in the league and I’ve been following it.
Are you good friends with (Seattle's) Joevin Jones?
What did he and your other friends in the league say when you told them you were coming to MLS?
They were excited for me. They’ve been telling me to come over. We knew it was going to be fun to play against each other again. I’ve played with Joevin at W Connection and the national team. I’ve played against (San Jose's) Cordell Cato, so it’s just really fun for us and he was excited also and looking forward to it. I’ve played with [Kevin] Molino (Orlando City SC). The first contract I signed in a league, we signed together with Ma Pau. So we started off together playing as young kids and just continued to grow in the game and ourselves. For me and for them, it was exciting for me to get over here.
Have you had a chance to settle in Denver yet?
I’ve been to Denver for like two or three days. I haven’t really settled in and seen much, but I’m looking forward to settling in as soon as possible.