Playing against a former team can stir up some strong emotions in professional athletes.
Some go about their business as usual, some get too excited and fall short of expectations and some fire up in a positive way and deliver consistently in that scenario.
Chicago Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson will face his former team, the Columbus Crew, on Saturday (4 p.m. CSN+) and find out how he will be affected when the game kicks off.
“I certainly want to play well, but I need to go out and perform to the utmost of my capability every game regardless," Lampson said. "It’s fun because you get to go against the guys you were playing with for four years, but nothing malicious, nothing deep-seated or anything like that. It’s going to be a fun experience and hopefully I can go out and show them that I can still play.”
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Lampson signed as a homegrown player for the Crew after a collegiate career at Ohio State. He played with the Crew for four years and made 16 appearances with the club. However, he wasn't in Columbus' plans going forward so both parties moved on after last season.
The 26-year-old said he holds no ill will towards his old team, but still talks about having something to prove.
“I think it was mutual from both sides that they didn’t see me in their plans and I needed to go somewhere and be able to play," Lampson said. "Certainly I think I’ve earned the opportunity here and hopefully I’ll go out on Saturday and show that I’m more than capable of playing at this level.”
While Lampson is saying all the politically correct things about taking it like any other game, his current coach, Veljko Paunovic, boasted about how he performed when playing former teams.
“I think it depends on how you manage that emotion that you may have in a game against your former club," Paunovic said "I’m sure that he has a lot of friends there and first we are professionals. If you manage those emotions in the right way it could be very helpful for you, for the team. It can motivate in the best possible way in order to perform well for our team. I’ll tell you in my career, almost every time I played against my former teams I scored goals. For me it was very motivational, but we have to manage it.”
The Crew have started 0-2, but after making it to the MLS Cup final in December, expectations remain high. There's also plenty of attacking talent in the form of Federico Higuain, one of the top playmakers in the league, and Kei Kamara and Ethan Finlay, who are both coming off All-Star seasons.
Lampson's familiarity with these players could come into play when he faces one of them charging in on goal.
“I think it helps," Lampson said. "Tendencies don’t really change player to player and everybody scouts so we know what they want to do, what they try to do. They’re a very good team and we need to respect our opponent, but we also need to show them that we’re just as good and hopefully we’ll come out with a win.”