Soccer Star Sprang From Family of Acrobatsby Charlie Wright '17 | Photo by Greg Fiume. Family photo courtesy of Gordon Wild
Plenty of children would be terrified if confronted by clowns in the dark, but for a young Gordon Wild ’19 it was a nightly occurrence.
Before bursting onto the American soccer scene, Wild toured his native Germany with his parents, longtime circus performers who worked as a tandem acrobatic team. No matter what city they stopped in, they always tucked Gordon into bed, still decked out in their full makeup and costumes.
Wild is now the star of a different kind of show, dominating the pitch as the leading goal scorer for the powerhouse Maryland men’s soccer team. After leading the nation in goals as a freshman at University of South Carolina Upstate, Wild transferred to UMD, where he has excelled on a national stage. Last year, he brought home first-team All-Big Ten and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors while finishing in the top three in the country in goals and points.
The European import started playing soccer at age 4 and showed a talent that he never had for acrobatics. He’s grateful that his parents didn’t pressure him to follow in their oversized footsteps.
“They just said whatever your heart feels like, do that, follow that,” says Wild. “And that’s what I did.”
Wild left home at 16 to join the youth academy at Mainz of the Bundesliga, the top professional soccer league in Germany, then played for Wehen Wiesbaden. His parents then encouraged him to pursue opportunities abroad.
As a relative unknown, Wild ended up at USC Upstate, where he was named the Atlantic Sun Conference freshman of the year. As bigger schools vied for his talents, Wild chose to come to College Park.
“We felt like we needed someone who had the ability and the confidence and the swagger to be a goal scorer,” says Head Coach Sasho Cirovski. “Certainly, he came through with flying colors. I felt like he was the missing ingredient to a successful season.”
The Terps, who had an iron grip on the No. 1 ranking for much of last season, are looking to bounce back after a disappointing second-round exit in the NCAA tournament. Wild is again the team’s offensive focal point.
He credits the yoga training he learned from his mother with keeping him in shape and says he got his strong legs and athleticism from his father.
Wild’s biggest adjustment coming to America has been the schedule. He prefers competing year-round, rather than training most of the year and playing multiple games a week for a few intense months in the fall.
“As a futbol player you live for the games, you want to win in competition,” he says. “I miss playing; you are suffering in the spring.”
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