RSL Soapbox: Where did you grow up and how did you start playing soccer?
Aaron Maund: I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and I started playing soccer primarily because of my dad. He's Carribean, he's from Trinidad, so it's just what Trinidadians do, you know? They run track and they play soccer and apparently they play cricket. (laughs)
RSL Soapbox: You had a breakout year last year. Was the difference just consistent minutes as a starter?
AM: I think so. I think getting consistent minutes you get into a rhythm and you can build off of performances. I think all of that helps a young guy coming in.
RSL Soapbox: Do you consider yourself to be more of a cerebral, vocal defender or a defender that has strong physical attributes or something in between?
AM: In between. I'm trying to do both at the same time. You know, both parts of my game are growing, my athleticism's getting better and the vocal part of my game is getting better as well.
RSL Soapbox: How does a player earn minutes with RSL?
AM: I think when you get in there you just perform. You do well and kind of force the issue. I think that's how it goes with any team you know? You get in there, you get the opportunity and you take hold of it. You do well, you show well, you prove to the coaching staff, hyou prove to the players around you that you deserve to be there and that you can help the team.
RSL Soapbox: How does the atmosphere at Rio Tinto differ from that of other stadiums and what makes it unique?
AM: I don't know about other teams but it's just really nice going into the RioT every week and seeing the same places in the same spots and the rhythm, the chants and all that stuff. It feels like home, it feels like everyone including the fans, staff, front office, players, coaches, everyone's working toward that one goal and you feel that energy around the stadium.
RSL Soapbox: Jeff Cassar said there is something special happening in the locker room. How's the team chemistry different this year than it was last year?
AM: I don't know how different it is. It's just there's that feeling, there's not really a word to put on it. There's chemistry, but there's just that feeling around camp. It could be because last year we were all getting to know each other, there was a lot of new faces, a lot of moving parts. But I think this year everyone's really comfortable. Everyone kind of knows their role. You just have that feeling, whatever that may be.
RSL Soapbox: Is there a difference in the intensity of training this year than in previous years?
AM: I think so. I think from the first kick there was that chip on our shoulder from last year because we didn't make the playoffs and I think that you see that in training. The guys want to do a little bit extra, guys are trying to be a little bit sharper from the first whistle, from the first kick at practice, from as soon as they get here in the locker room. I feel that you see all the good pros on our team, everyone's kind of just doing what they're supposed to do and what we have to for that end goal.
RSL Soapbox: Which player is the most difficult to defend in MLS and why?
AM: For me it's the small guys, the guys who have a low center of gravity who can turn on a dime. Like Plata's build, those guys and me being kind of tall they are just always under me it seems like. They just can turn quick, they're really fast.
RSL Soapbox: Which player is the most difficult to defend on RSL?
AM: Plata's a real tough one for sure, especially the way he's playing right now.
RSL Soapbox: What would define a successful 2016 for you personally and for the team as a whole?
AM: Well obviously if we win it all, that's pretty successful. I think we're out for hardware this year. I think that's how we're approaching it and obviously going into each season if that's not the goal then you're doing something wrong.