By Emily Olsen
The University of Maryland is less than ten miles from D.C. United’s RFK Stadium, but the latest connection between the two involves Germany, a nationally recognized USC Upstate scorer, and a former ACC midfielder.
When German Gordon Wild arrived at the University of Maryland from USC Upstate, the sophomore forward immediately clicked with the family atmosphere head coach Sasho Cirovski created.
“Our culture has always been very integrated with very good chemistry,” Cirovski said.
Wild is one of Maryland’s two high-profile transfers. He, along with Maryland-native and UVA standout Jake Rozhansky, committed to Maryland in January.
Before joining the Terps, Wild led USC Upstate (7-7-1) and the nation in scoring with 16 goals. With such an impressive resume, Wild hungered for a bigger challenge. He chose to leave USC Upstate after just one season.
After choosing to move on, Wild had three major Division I schools showing interest: University of Maryland, UCLA, and Syracuse University.
“Around the week of the Sweet Sixteen quarter final round, we got an email from [Gordon],” Cirovski said. “We were late in the recruiting process. He committed to two other visits to UCLA and Syracuse.”
With Maryland holding out, Wild chose to visit the Terps’ former ACC rival, Syracuse, in November of last year. This is where, 364 miles north, the German found familiarity.
Julian Büscher was in his second year at Syracuse when he hosted the freshman Wild. The two quickly bonded as they both grew up playing soccer in Germany and chose to leave home to pursue a future career through the American university system.
“I hosted him when I was at school and didn’t know if I was staying another year or not,” Büscher said. “He wanted to come to Syracuse if I was going to stay because of the German connection.”
The connection between the two grew over the winter.
“We get along well,” Wild said. “It has just stayed like that.”
On Jan. 14, 2016, the person who would have kept Wild away from Maryland became a friendly face just ten miles away. D.C United drafted Büscher eleventh overall in the 2016 MLS Superdraft.
“When I saw that Julian was committing to D.C., I immediately texted him: how nice is this we are together in Washington,” Wild said. “Since then, we have had a lot of exchanges with each other. We were talking a lot about how things were going.”
Whether it is small banter about hometown Bundesliga teams or sharing jokes in their native tongue, Wild and Büscher have a special bond that brings a little bit of Germany to America.
“We miss some traditions; we have a different language. It is easier to joke around in German than in English because we are more comfortable in it,” Büscher said. “It is nice to have someone when you have a down day to have him to call or text to hang out, it is not an issue. It is great for both of us.”
Though it was ultimately a family and personal decision to come to Maryland, Wild agreed that it is nice to have a friend so close.
Wild is a sophomore pursuing a degree in business administration at the University of Maryland, a school he chose for the soccer and academic atmosphere. His previous team at USC Upstate is Division I, but was ranked 167 places below No. 10 Maryland at the finish of the 2015 season. The change of environment will be a challenge, but Wild said he was up for it.
“It all depends on your self esteem. I am a very confident guy,” Wild said. “I knew how hard it was going to be. This is definitely a bigger challenge than last year. ”
“He knows what to expect,” said roommate and Maryland center back Alex Crognale. “It is going to be a little different here than it might have been at Upstate, but I think he is transiting well and there is a lot more that we can see out of him.”
Büscher also believes in his friend and is confident in Wild’s abilities to rise to the challenge of the tradition and standards of Maryland men’s soccer. Büscher saw Wild’s abilities first hand briefly this summer when Wild joined D.C. United for a few training sessions.
“He had to score goals in Division I anyway to get the national scoring title,” Büscher said. “He is a good player and now he is playing with better players which could raise his level and make him even better.”
Wild will get his first regular season chance to show he is up for the challenge on a huge stage. Maryland travels to Los Angeles Friday to take on UCLA at the StubHub Center, home of MLS LA Galaxy, at 10 p.m. ET.
Büscher may not catch Wild’s first game due to travel Wednesday to Montreal with D.C. United and then preparing for a home match at RFK Stadium Saturday, but he hopes to make the ten mile trip to at least one of Wild’s games this year.
“It worked out pretty well,” Büscher said.