FC Kansas City midfielder Erika Tymrak will not be forgetting 2013 in a hurry and after her international debut and being named the National Women’s Soccer League Rookie of the Year she is now at the hub of a group of Americans representing FC Bayern Munich.
Chosen in the second round of the 2013 NWSL College Draft, Erika was to emerge as one of the outstanding players in the inaugural year of the new league. Her six goals and four assists were extremely valuable for the team as FC Kansas City finished 2nd in the regular season.
Vlatko Andonovski, named NWSL Coach of the Year, saw his Blues ultimately beaten in the semi-final of the Championship play-offs. The rapid progress for Erika did not end there though and after entering the stage with the US Women’s National Team in September with a start against Mexico she headed to the Frauen-Bundesliga in Germany.
On loan with 2012 German Cup winners Bayern Munich, Erika is one of six Americans in the squad. Forward Sarah Hagen, defenders Niki Cross and Gina Lewandowski, and midfielder Amber Brooks are joined by Erika and goalkeeper Bianca Henninger. Henninger is also on loan from FC Kansas City and Erika explains how both her compatriot and her Bavarian surroundings do not quite share the same soundtrack as her!
“My favourite type of music is country, which I know isn’t very popular in Germany, but it’s all I listen to back home. I would say music has a pretty big importance in my life.
“Bianca doesn’t like country at all!”
Munich is naturally far removed from Erika’s home city of Bradenton, Florida, and this temporary switch has brought excitement for the 22-year-old. Working in tandem with that feeling of anticipation was of course a certain level of nerves, but only the best kind in Erika’s eyes.
“At first it was tough adapting to a new culture and language but I think I got used to it pretty quick. I loved meeting new types of people and playing a different kind of style in soccer was very interesting in a positive way.
“I like to travel and meet new people and try new adventures. I’m always moving and living in different cities.
“I think that when you are young you should take advantage of all of the opportunities life gives you.”
While the men’s team of FC Bayern are a dominant force domestically and on the European front, it is fair to say their female counterparts have not experienced similar top-level success. Although they were very close runners-up in the 2009 Frauen-Bundesliga, the title has been won six times each by Frankfurt and Turbine Potsdam since 2001.
Wolfsburg were champions last season and a member of that team, the recently retired New Zealand captain Rebecca Smith, gave her insight into life, music and football in the nation on this site. Turbine Potsdam forward Ada Hegerberg was also interviewed on here this year and the German schlager music got its second mention!
Erika did not bring up that particular genre but it is hard to imagine her not coming across it during her stay in the country. The team playlist’s importance can be understated by some but a lot of players in the game recognise how priceless it can be in setting the mood before a game. Numerous members of the US Women’s National Team have talked on here about the music the squad share and Lauren Holiday (née Cheney) has her role as the team DJ.
Holiday’s 12 goals for FC Kansas City won her the NWSL Golden Boot and she is one of the musically-driven teammates in Erika’s career so far.
“Usually the people in charge of music before games are the people who enjoy all types of music. Hip-hop, rap, country, rock, techno.”
In locker rooms across the globe, singing or chanting can galvanise a set of players either before a match or after a win. Performing a song is also known as being an initiation challenge for those who are new to a team. Erika knows all about this and the motivational anthem she performed once was also revealed on here as USWNT star Heather O’Reilly’s track of choice.
“Yes I’ve had to sing many times before when I have joined a new team. One time I rapped Eminem ‘Lose Yourself’ and another time I sang ‘Country Girl (Shake It For Me)’ by Luke Bryan.”
Last month, the US beat Brazil 4-1 in Orlando and the game has huge significance for Erika as she netted her first ever goal in senior national team colours. Erika’s goal came just a couple of minutes after her introduction to the field and the result meant that the team completed an unbeaten 2013 with 13 wins and three draws.
Coach Tom Sermanni handed a debut that day to Bayern midfielder Amber Brooks at the Florida Citrus Bowl and Erika has joined forces with her on stage too.
“We’ve sang karaoke together here in Munich and everyone loved it!”
Erika graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology at the end of last year. However, if we take it back a bit further to her school days then there was a female group she was tuning into at the time!
“(The first record I bought was) Spice Girls – I was seven years old.”
A runner-up with the US in the 2008 Under-17 World Cup, Erika notched the July Player of the Month en route to securing her Rookie of the Year accolade in the NWSL this season. She started 16 of her 21 appearances for FC Kansas City and was joined by some fellow Blues in the league’s individual awards. Nicole Barnhart was named Goalkeeper of the Year while defender Becky Sauerbrunn took the Defender of the Year honour.
The team finished 2nd, just ahead of Portland Thorns who eliminated them at the semi-final stage before taking the Championship. Over 4000 were in attendance at Verizon Wireless Field as FC Kansas City took a 2-0 lead thanks to Erika and also Melissa Henderson. The tide then turned as Thorns hit back through Tobin Heath and two more past interviewees of this site, Tiffany Weimer and Allie Long, to win 3-2.
Although it did not quite yield a Championship medal, Erika’s first NWSL campaign did whet the appetite for future glory. Currently, she is part of a Bayern team who are 4th in the table after nine games, behind leaders Frankfurt, Turbine Potsdam (2nd) and Wolfsburg in 3rd.
Coach Thomas Wörle will be able to work with two new signings in January – Norwegian central defender Nora Holstad and Swedish forward Olivia Schough. Erika and Bianca Henninger’s loan agreements expire at the end of the year as focus begins to edge gradually towards the 2014 NWSL season.
When she looks back on this time with the club though, Erika will have memories that will always last. As she has shared moments with her fellow Americans at Bayern she has also took so much from the setting and the culture. At 22, there is the feeling that this is just one of many enhancing segments to come in her journey inside and outside of her sport. She offers her personal assessment.
“I think that this whole experience just made me grow up a little more and appreciate all of the blessings in my life. To be able to play soccer for my career and make new friends along the way is pretty cool and makes me very appreciative.”
Such a lot can happen in a year and as this one draws to a close Erika can take her pick from a multitude of reasons to be proud. To finish up, let’s get a glimpse into the ones who have made the biggest impression on Erika in her time in the game to date. Putting herself into a 5-a-side team, here are the four players she would have alongside her from a selection pool of her career teammates.
“I would select Hope Solo as my keeper – the best keeper I’ve ever seen or played with. Becky Sauerbrunn as my defender because she is so calm and technical but can defend under pressure so well.
“Desiree Scott – she played holding midfield for Canada and is so good, simple and strong and really fun to play with. Sarah Hagen as my striker because she is such a great finisher but also is great at passing and playing with.”