Locker room: Zach Loyd
Defender, FC Dallas
Zach Loyd on the field during a July 28 game against the Los Angeles Galaxy at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas
Now in his third year with FC Dallas, Tulsa native Zach Loyd has firmly established himself as one of Major League Soccer’s top defenders.
Loyd, 25, grew up in Verdigris but spent a lot of his youth in Tulsa, where he played club soccer for Tulsa Nationals. One of his coaches was former Tulsa Roughnecks star Victor Moreland.
Loyd later attended The University of North Carolina, starring as a defender and midfielder for the Tar Heels. He was drafted into MLS in 2010.
Talk about the mini soccer field you and your brothers had in your back yard in Verdigris.
My dad bought the lot behind (our) house. Growing up, my parents would buy me lights for Christmas and birthdays. Eventually I got enough to where we put poles at each end of the lot. It was pretty cool. I spent a lot of nights out there with my friends and whomever we could get to come over … We’d hang out and pretty much play soccer all night.
You’re the youngest of four brothers. How much did your siblings push you growing up?
My oldest brother didn’t (play soccer). He played baseball. My other two brothers played. They went to Benedictine University and they decided to pursue something else when they got to college. They were definitely a huge influence … (I grew up) always wanting to be better, always wanting to be as good as them. It was good being the youngest, getting pushed all the time and always being challenged.
You suffered a detached retina your senior year of high school. How serious was that?
Senior year, we were playing (basketball) in Nowata. I got hit, and I immediately lost sight. (I) got my sight back (within) a month. Then, I was finishing up my senior year and I took a blow to the head playing soccer, and that’s when it completely detached. I had to go to Oklahoma City and get surgery. It was a scary moment because the doctor said he didn’t know if I’d be able to play sports again, so it was a pretty life-changing moment for me.
Are you living the dream of getting paid to play a game you truly love?
I’m thankful that I am where I am today. Everything’s God willing. He (has) definitely been my rock the whole time. If it weren’t for family, friends, teammates, coaches, I wouldn’t be here today. So, I’m very fortunate, and I’d say blessed, to be a part of this organization. Hopefully I can continue to develop and can continue to have an impact on the community around here.
When you’re not practicing or playing soccer, what do you do to unwind?
I’m a big outdoors guy. Whether it’s archery … fishing … just going to the lake and hanging out, I just try to get my mind off (soccer) and really just spend time with friends and family.
Verdigris High School
- Verbally committed to play at The University of Tulsa before North Carolina coaches noticed him at the prestigious Elite Sports Performance Tournament and offered him a scholarship.
- Played basketball and soccer all four seasons for Verdigris before graduating in 2006.
- Played football as a freshman and a sophomore.
The University of North Carolina
- Named UNC’s team captain his senior year. He started the season in the midfield
- but switched to center back after a teammate suffered a season-ending injury.
- Played five positions in his four seasons with the Tar Heels.
- Played in the 2008 and 2009 NCAA Men’s College Cups.
- Appeared with the U.S. national team on Jan. 22, 2011, against Chile.
- Switched from No. 19 to No. 17 after former Dallas player and broadcaster Bobby Rhine, who had worn No. 19, tragically died in September 2011.
- Was drafted fifth overall by FC Dallas in the 2010 MLS Super Draft.