JT Marcinkowski has 16 MLS regular-season games in his career, but this is his first year coming into a season for the San Jose Earthquakes as the expected starter in goal.
While his role has changed, the Homegrown player said his approach has not.
“I just try to approach every single day the same,” Marcinkowski told reporters during media availability on Wednesday. “I just come in and try to get better, work on what I need to, work on and just help the team in any way that I can. I’m not sure if I feel any different last year compared to this year. I think getting the opportunity to be the starter is really big for my confidence but even last year it’s the mentality is the same every day, doesn’t change it’s here to come into work, coming to be a good teammate. And just try to help the team in any way that I can and try to win as many games as we can.”
Marcinkowski’s insertion into the lineup in 2020 helped turn the team’s season around, with the goalkeeper cutting down on mistakes and helping them go from dead and buried to a playoff team. But he deflected his role in the turnaround, instead crediting the entire squad.
“I think towards the end of the year we definitely tightened up in the back and we made some improvements throughout the entire team,” he said. “And I think one area that we really tried to emphasize is it’s not just the backline or not just the goalkeeper. Everybody on the field just the entire 11, it’s the guys who come into the game. It’s just consistently having 90 minutes of pressure, 90 minutes of good shape and knowing where everybody is and making sure that everybody’s in the right position. And I think it takes an entire team effort in order to have a good goals against record and so we’re really just trying to improve on last year and just keep things really simple.”
Marcinkowski was part of the U.S. U-23 national team, along with Earthquakes teammate Jackson Yueill, that came up just short in its quest to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics a few weeks back. Marcinkowski saw playing time in the tournament, but not in the crucial loss, and was even-keeled about the experience and outcome.
“Overall I think it was a pretty unbelievable experience,” he said. “I think being down in Mexico for over a month, and being with those guys and that team, it was great. It’s a great group, there’s a lot of great players. It was a great coaching staff. Clearly it didn’t end the way that we wanted it to, but such is life and kind of just have to move on and and got to take it on the chin. It’s something that you can’t change and can’t dwell on and just have to use it for more motivation for the future for this season.
“I think, with everything there’s a positive way to look at it and so having the chance to have a full season here in San Jose and have a really good run of games is something that I’m looking forward to and kind of really working towards. And, yeah, obviously it didn’t end the way that we wanted but, you know, it’s one of those things that you can’t change it and have to live with that fact,” he added.
The Earthquakes will kick off the 2021 MLS regular season Friday evening with a meeting on the road against the Houston Dynamo.
For Marcinkowski, entering the season as the projected No. 1 brings his journey through the club, dating back to his boyhood fandom, full circle.
“I’ve kind of grown up with this club, not only playing with it but being a fan. And you’re right, looking back and being in training when I was 15 with with guys like Jon Busch and Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart and all those guys, it’s definitely a dream come true. Like I always say, putting on the shirt every day, being able to put on the jersey, it’s a surreal feeling being able to represent this club in this area. But it’s definitely one that I don’t take for granted and it’s one that I wear with a lot of pride and a lot of love for, for San Jose and for Earthquakes,” he said.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.