Of all the bios in the MLS SuperDraft media guide, one of the last sentences for one of the last players may be the most interesting fact in the 76-page document: “Son of former acrobats – a German mother and Danish father – who performed as a duo in traveling troupes before creating their own circus company.”
The bio is for Gordon Wild, a forward from Maryland, who Atlanta United selected in the second round of the SuperDraft in Philadelphia earlier this month.
Wild fulfilled the dreams of many children and he didn’t even have to run away to do so. He grew up in the circus.
“Show business is very similar to football,” he said. “It’s both entertainment. It’s a similar mindset you need to have. Your body is what you work with. How to treat your body, how to take care of your body, how to train your body, how to focus. Those are all things my parent taught me when I was very young. “Definitely a positive experience.”
Wild’s father’s ancestors were circus people. His grandmother was tightrope walker. His dad, Johnny Meyer, has done everything in the circus from the trapeze to the flipboard to being a stilt-walking clown. His mother, Irene Wild, grew up as a gymnast in Germany. After high school and university, she attended circus school in Paris.
Johnny and Irene met in the circus, traveled the world together and fell in love.
They formed their own circus and put an act together where his father would lay on his back with his legs at a 90-degree angle. Using only his lower-body strength, Meyer would throw Wild into the air, where she would do front flips, back flips and turns. It’s called a Risley Act.
Gordon Wild, who took is mother’s last name, had no interest in joining the circus. His passion was soccer, which he started playing when he was four years old.
“My parents were so nice to give me choice to pursue my passion of football,” Wild said. “I’m very thankful for that.”
While his parents would perform on weekends, he would practice or play.
He became good enough to join the Mainz academy, but, as with most players, that path ended before he could become a professional.
Wild turned his attention to America, first enrolling at South Carolina-Upstate. With a cannon for a left foot, he scored 16 goals in 15 games. He transferred to Maryland and topped his freshman marks with 17 goals in 21 games for the Terps. Playing with a sprained ankle and facing opponents key to stop him, his goals dropped to five in 19 appearances as a junior. The 22-year old left school early for the draft.
“America is all about statistics,” Wild said. “I think I played well. I think maybe I was a little bit unlucky. Whereas two years ago the ball may have went in, this year I hit the post or the goalie made a good save.”
Some thought Atlanta United may have the steal in the draft when they selected Wild. He is adjusting into the team well with help from German teammates Julian Gressel and Kevin Kratz.
The ability to focus taught by his parents is helping him focus on the good during each training session.
“If you come in here as rookie and think I can’t do this, I can’t do this, then probably what will happen is you won’t be able to,” he said. “So, I’m trying to stay positive, trying to stay confident and tell myself I can do this and see what happens.
“I think it’s very important to believe in yourself. This is your job now. you are with adults. It’s very important to step up as a rookie.”