HANOVER, N.J. – Before he was President of the United States, Donald Trump wrote the best-selling book the Art of the Deal. Perhaps the foreword of the second edition can be written by Daniel Royer, who did a little bit of legwork in some recent negotiations to get a jersey from a European soccer legend.
Following his team’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire at Red Bull Arena on Saturday night, New York Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer stood quietly outside the visitor's locker room. He leaned against the wall, still in his game shorts and wearing the short-sleeve compression shirt that was under his jersey. That same jersey was clutched in his right hand, bunched together. He looked down on his feet, his slider sandals providing momentary entertainment as he passed time.
With him was Sean Ruiz, the long-tenured assistant equipment manager of the Red Bulls.
A few minutes of waiting and out walks the man and the reason why Royer has moseyed on down to this end of the stadium. Bastian Schweinsteiger, the former German international and a man who has played for the likes of Bayern Munich and Manchester United came out and gave Royer a handshake. The two swapped jerseys and talked for several minutes.
In his right hand, now, was Schweinsteiger’s blueish/gray Fire jersey, a new favored possession for sure.
Swapping jerseys between soccer player following a match is the norm, usually, something worked out in pregame before a match. This particular jersey exchange, it turns out, had been in the process for several weeks.
“We played against each other many years ago with the national team, Austria against Germany,” Royer told Metro. “Actually we actually have the same trainer. In the winter, I had a recovery session and treatment with a physiotherapist in Germany; he used to go there sometimes too. That’s how we got connected a little bit. Through this physio, he made sure that Schweinsteiger would give me his jersey.”
The physiotherapist then reached out to Schweinsteiger and told him about the possibility of a jersey exchange, that Royer would be interested. Royer called it “a class act” for the German star to remember about the swap weeks later.
The plan is for Royer to bring the jersey to his parent’s house. It will be quite the discussion point for sure, given that Schweinsteiger is a legend who made 121 appearances for Germany and was a member of the 2014 World Cup-winning squad. He made seven appearances last year for his national team last year before retiring from international play.
This year, Royer's first full season in MLS, has been solid. A mid-summer signing for the Red Bulls on the eve of the transfer window deadline, Royer comes with plenty of experience in Europe.
He had an assist in the game’s opening goal on Saturday night, a nice cross to Bradley Wright-Phillips. He’s looked comfortable on either wing, hits a nice cross and brings a tremendous work rate to the field.
The 26-year old is settled and happy in New York. His style of play, quick and moving into space, is a perfect fit for this team.
“That’s right, I think we have the right players for that too. It’s good to have Sacha [Kljestan] in the No. 10 position because he’s really good in the final passes, the one-two touch passes,” Royer said.
“Sometimes the job from the winger is to go into certain spaces with one touch or two touches. That’s how we like to play at times. I think we like to be creative, so far it has been good.”
It was a leap of faith for Royer to leave a very good Danish league to come to MLS. He’s made six appearances for Austria’s national team and despite the fact that the league is growing and that the standard of player is better than many European leagues, MLS is still looked down upon.
Royer knew that MLS was a quality league before he jumped the Atlantic and his opinion hasn’t changed since then.
“People in Europe don’t think the league is as good as it really is. I can’t speak for every country in Europe but that’s what I had heard,” Royer said. “I haven’t been surprised at anything. It is noticeable that it is a physical league with several good players on each team.”
He’s taken to the lifestyle, clearly. While the travel between MLS cities is far more than in his previous club stops in Austria and Denmark, there's much to like about the league and the American way of life.
Recently, he purchased a Jeep Wrangler – “it doesn’t get more American than that, no?” – and he likes to explore north Jersey and New York City in his downtime. This fall, he wants to catch a NFL game.
“I liked it here from Day 1, to be honest. It is hard work every day, we have a coach that asks a lot of us,” Royer said. “We all know that. It’s a good philosophy, to be honest; I really enjoy it here. I’m happy here, on and off the field.”