Soccer captain chases major-league dream

Max Talbert, a 22-year-old senior and SF State men’s soccer captain, threw new black soccer jerseys into the waiting arms of his teammates during the first week of school. Members of the SF State men’s soccer team smiled and joked with Talbert as he laughed with them from the center of the group during the team’s first photo day of the season.

“A team captain leads by example and sets the tone for his teammates,” Talbert said.

Talbert has been playing soccer since he was 11. He said he considers himself a role model to his teammates, loves physicality on the soccer field and has a dream of one day becoming a Major League Soccer player.

Talbert played baseball, football and soccer growing up, but he said soccer stuck with him the most. He said he liked soccer because the combination of physicality and finesse made the game fun. Talbert began at the recreational level in the American Youth Soccer Organization at the urging of his father, who played the sport during his time in community college.

Max Talbert, captain of the Gators’ soccer team, dribbles a ball during practice at SF State Cox Stadium Wednesday, Aug 26. (Qing Huang / Xpress)

Max Talbert, captain of the Gators’ soccer team, dribbles a ball during practice at SF State Cox Stadium Wednesday, Aug 26. (Qing Huang / Xpress)

“My dad really pushed me into soccer,” Talbert said. “He just wanted me to go for it and see what happened.”

Talbert played soccer for his high school, Hunting Beach Highand then went on to play for Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California.

While at Golden West College, Talbert started playing center back and has continued to do so for the past four years. He plays in the middle of the defensive alignment, which allows him to see the entire field and make adjustments from the back line, he said.

During Talbert’s sophomore year playing for the Golden West Rustlers in 2012, he was named Orange Empire Conference MVP. He led a defense that allowed only 10 goals all season long, leading the Rustlers to a 16-1-3 overall record, according to oecsports.com.

“While at community college I got MVP of the whole conference,” Talbert said. “That meant a lot to me because it’s hard to win that award as a defenseman.”

Emmanuel Serrano, the other captain of the men’s soccer team, said that whenever there is a breakaway across midfield, Talbert has the situation on lock down.

“(Talbert) is a very good defender,” Serrano said. “He brings leadership to the team and a lot of experience to the defense.”

Serrano said he values Talbert as a leader, and head coach Matt Barnes agrees.

“Max is a very hard working player,” Barnes said. “He’s an absolute gamer. Some guys are just good in practice, but Max is good in clutch situations. We can rely on him to get the job done during crunch time in a game.”

Barnes said Talbert is a quiet leader who leads by example for his younger teammates.

“Max takes care of himself and handles his business,” Barnes said. “He shows up to practice on time, and he practices hard. He is a role model for the younger players because of how he works.”

Talbert practices hard and plays hard, Barnes said. Talbert said he plays hard by being physical with opponents on the soccer field.

“One word to describe me would be ‘tough,’” Talbert said. “I like the physical aspect of the game. When people come in on you and you get a good 50-50 ball, it’s a lot of fun.”

At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 180 pounds, Talbert said he isn’t afraid to use his athletic build to play defense. He said his love and passion for the game drove him to try and compete at the professional level.

“After I’m done with school I’m planning on trying to get into the MLS combine,” Talbert said.

Barnes said he is confident that Talbert has what it takes to go professional.

“Max is an All-Conference player who has the size, speed and tools to make it to the next level,” Barnes said. “There is a whole new level of commitment involved, but Max is up for the challenge.”

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