After an extended time off —BOOOO off-seasons —we're back with our weekly Indy Eleven player profile series. For the first installment of the season we snagged newly signed (January 2016) goalkeeper Jon Busch. Busch entered the professional ranks in 1997 amassing more than 450 career starts over the years. A career that is highlighted by a stint with the USMNT and by being named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2008 while playing for the Chicago Fire.
Peep our chat before heading to The Mike for the home-opener April 9.
NUVO: What did you think of Indianapolis before you moved here?
Jon Busch: Honestly I didn’t know much about it. I knew that it’s in the Midwest and very similar to Columbus, Ohio where I spent five years. Obviously you’ve got the Pacers and the Colts, a good sports town.
NUVO: Where was the first place you ate once you arrived in Indy?
Busch: Well I was staying in a hotel so it’s not the best representation but I ate at Jersey Mike’s, the sandwich shop that was right down the street from the hotel.
NUVO: What has been your favorite part of Indy in the short 3 months you’ve been here?
Busch: Probably getting to know the fans. The fans are great here so it’s been fun going to the different appearances and having the preseason games where they come out and talk to you and introduce themselves. It’s been really cool to see how invested the fans and the city are in the team.
NUVO: What are you looking forward to most this season?
Busch: I think the atmosphere around the games. From what I’ve heard and seen in the past couple of years this is the best supported team in the NASL. I’m excited to see the stadium packed and the fans and how involved they get in the games — that atmosphere they create.
NUVO: What was your experience like starting in goal for the USMNT?
Busch: It was amazing. I look back on that time very fondly. The game that I got to start was against Columbia and we ended up winning 3-0. Right about that time is when I really started jumping into it. Casey Keller was the No. 1 at the time. So I went from that in front of 10 .. 11,000 in January to my next game sitting behind [Keller] in a World Cup qualifier down in Mexico City with 110, 120,000, whatever they seat. Just nervous as all could be, sitting on the bench realizing “god forbid if anything actually happened to [Keller] I would actually have to play in a World Cup qualifier.” It was amazing though. Between the time Bruce brought my around and then even Bob Bradley after him. It’s amazing. Anytime you can represent your country in any sport is an absolute honor and I was privileged to be able to have some time there.
NUVO: What’s the craziest object you’ve ever autographed?
Busch: Body parts. We’ll just leave it at that.
NUVO: If any person played you in a movie, who would best fit the role?
Busch: Let’s go with Mark Wahlberg because I think he did a great job in Lone Survivor and I really like that movie and I’m big with the Navy Seals.
NUVO: If you had a walkout song like baseball players do, what would it be?
Busch: Oh wow. It would probably have to be something by Guns ’N Rose or something by AC DC.
NUVO: What’s your perfect meal?
Busch: I’m big into ground bison so ground bison with a little barbecue on top of it, a baked potato and some vegetables — very simple.
NUVO: You’ve had a long, successful career, what piece of advice would you give young, upcoming goalkeepers?
Busch: I think there’s two pieces that have served me well over the years. A: never let anybody out work you. I think my work ethic is the reason why I’ve stayed around as long as I have. The other part of that is be a sponge. There’s plenty of different goalkeeper coaches around the country. There’s plenty of different styles of goalkeepers. Every time I’ve trained it’s either under a different goalkeeper coach or with other goalkeepers. I’ve always tried to learn something from them. No matter your age or your experience level you’re never done learning in this game. So I think if you have an open mind anytime you train you’re always going to improve your own play. Those would be my two bits of advice.
NUVO: One final question before I let you go: How did Saves for Seals get started and what can fans do to contribute?
Busch: Saves for Seals got started five years ago now, right around the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I had a cousin who was a firefighter who was killed in the towers. That was my first inkling that I wanted to do something. Then I read an article about a Chinook helicopter getting shot down in August 2011 and the majority of the soldiers on that helicopter were Team 6 Seals. I started doing some research and I have a direct connection into the Special Ops world and that’s kind of when the lightbulb went off for me. So I reached out to the Navy Seal Foundation and explained what I wanted to do. We brainstormed ideas and it’s grown year after year. I have special Navy Seal gloves, special made boots from Adidas that we auction off throughout the season. We’re also setting up a fan donation page and we’re doing it a little bit different this year. Rather than just a normal donation page we’re going to have a page where fans can get involved. Fans can sponsor me per save during the season. It can be 50 cents a save, $5 a save, it doesn’t matter, all the money that we raise ends up going to the Navy Seals Foundation. One of the things that I like to always make sure the fans understand and know is that I put my money where my mouth is when it comes to this program. Each year I donate my own money into it. This year we’ve decided that I will put $11 per save into the pot as well. I’m hoping to get a lot of fans involved because like I said all the money goes to taking care of the families of the fallen warriors. I’ve been very fortunate for the last 20 years to be able to play this game because these guys are willing to sacrifice. I want to make sure we take care of their wives and their kids after they’re gone.