Ex-soccer player Josh Lambo hopes to make Chargers as kicker
SAN DIEGO (AP) Josh Lambo’s soccer career ended sooner than he would have liked, so he turned to football.
After the performance he had Saturday night for the San Diego Chargers, he might have a chance of making it in the NFL as a rookie.
Lambo kicked a game-winning field goal of 47 yards as time expired at Arizona, as well as kicks of 53 and 43 yards. He also showed a strong leg on kickoffs, which the Chargers need.
The Chargers still have two weeks to decide if they’ll keep both Lambo and incumbent Nick Novak, who struggled on kickoffs last year, or if they’ll keep just one kicker.
”My MLS career ended much quicker than I hoped it would and my national team career ended after the U-20 World Cup, so this is an opportunity to make an impact on a national stage and be the best at what I do,” Lambo said Monday. ”I haven’t had that feeling in a long time and I want it back desperately.”
Lambo was selected eighth overall in the 2008 MLS draft by FC Dallas and played in the reserve division. A broken jaw and a concussion led, in a roundabout way, to his release. He’d gotten a two-year associate degree from an online school while playing soccer and decided to get a four-year degree, so he enrolled at Texas A&M, where he kicked for the football team.
He signed with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie in May.
”I had the epiphany of, well, swinging your leg is swinging your leg, so I might as well try this whole football thing and thankfully it’s working out so far,” he said.
Lambo said a few other teams inquired.
The Chargers offered the best chance to land a job, he said, ”with the kickoff issue.”
The issue is that Novak allowed 67 kickoff returns for 1,488 yards last year, the most of any full-time kicker. He had the fewest touchbacks, 10.
That’s where Lambo thinks he can help. His first kickoff Saturday night went out of the end zone.
”That’s what I’m supposed to do,” he said.
His second kick went nine yards deep but was returned to the 24.
”I was a little salty about that,” he said.
”It’s a big thing to help our guys’ bodies. Kickoff cover is big,” Lambo said. ”They’re very prone to injury because everyone is going 100 mph, guys are trying to hit each other as hard as they can to make lanes and make blocks, so if I can kick the ball out of the back of the end zone and we know for sure that they’re going to start on the 20-yard line every time, then that’s a benefit, a good starting spot for our defense, and mainly just to keep our guys’ bodies fresh.”
Lambo said he wasn’t nervous.
”It’s my goal to hit the same exact ball every time. Whether it’s a PAT or a 47-yard game-winner, I go into everything with the same attitude. I take my same steps, have the same thought process. I trust that process and try to hit the ball down the middle.”
Lambo never played football until he went to Texas A&M.
He’s been determined to make every opportunity work.
”I hope more soccer players don’t follow my route because that’s more competition for me,” he said. ”But for me, I’ve been swinging my leg since I was 4 years old. It’s just minor adjustments and minor tweaks and if you’re as good of an athlete that you need to be for any sport, you should be able to make those adjustments.”
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