The San Jose Earthquakes acquired Jean-Marc Alexandre in a trade with Real Salt Lake on Dec. 1. Born in Verrettes, Haiti, the 25-year-old will become the second player from the Caribbean nation to suit up for San Jose, following Peguero Jean Philippe in 2008.
Alexandre helped Real Salt Lake reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in each of his first three seasons in the league, after earning his degree in Sports Management from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Known throughout his time in the league thus far as Jean Alexandre, but wishing to go by his given name of Jean-Marc Alexandre going forward, he made 38 regular-season league appearances for RSL.
The philanthropic midfielder has taken part in several community initiatives in his native Haiti. He started the Jean Alexandre Football Academy, an education and training academy in Verrettes, with his father, Jean, while still a student at Lynn in 2007. He supported the “Shoes for Haiti” donation drive late in 2010 and early in 2011 that resulted in 1,500 pairs of shoes being collected. Prior to that, Alexandre coordinated the shipment of clothing and soccer equipment to children at the academy following the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in January of 2010.
SJEarthquakes.com caught up with Alexandre after a recent training session to discuss the adaptation period to his new club, teammates and surroundings, his ongoing good works back home, and his thoughts on the fast-approaching 2012 season.
SJEarthquakes.com: Over three weeks into your first preseason with the club, with a six-day Arizona camp under your belt, how has it been so far?
Jean-Marc Alexandre: So far, it’s been good. The preseason is going well. Everyone came in fit and is up to speed. The team looks ready. Day-by-day, we are getting better and better as a squad, so it’s been going well.
SJEQ: How are you getting on with your new teammates? What’s the atmosphere like in the squad?
JMA: Everyone with the organization welcomed me in starting from the top – the general manager and the coaching staff, on down to the players. Everyone welcomed me. I feel very comfortable here, and I’m happy to be in San Jose.
SJEQ: What are your initial impressions of head coach Frank Yallop?
JMA: He knows what he wants. He has a plan. In training sessions, he makes it clear what he wants. As a player, it’s easy to work with a coach like that. I’m looking forward to seeing how the season goes. I think we will have a good year.
SJEQ: How do you like the Bay Area so far?
JMA: The weather is definitely better than in Salt Lake right now, so overall, it’s been good. I like the area. I like it here.
SJEQ: We understand that you were found to have the lowest body fat percentage on the team (4.8 percent) during a body composition test. What kind of a training regimen do you follow?
JMA: In the off-season, I train very hard, and I eat somewhat healthy. It’s natural for me, so I can’t really brag about it. Right now, at 4.8 (percent), it’s a little high for me, because it’s close to five. I’m usually closer to four than five, so hopefully in the next month or so, it should drop down a couple of points.
SJEQ: How are things going with your academy?
JMA: I actually just shipped a bus for the kids down to Haiti a couple of weeks ago. During the preseason, I haven’t been able to be very involved with it with the time (spent in training), but once the season gets going and things slow down a bit, I will be a lot more active.
SJEQ: Can you elaborate some on the academy’s general direction and structure?
JMA: Right now, the kids are 16. I started with them when they were 13. What I did is, I put them in a third-division tournament in Haiti. That’s why I bought the bus, so they can travel and play games, just so they can get some more competition, because in Haiti, there aren’t many academies. Mine is one of a few, so I put them in a third-division amateur tournament down there. Hopefully, by next month or so, I will start with seven-year-olds, a lot younger, to give those kids an opportunity to play also.
SJEQ: What are your goals and expectations for the 2012 season?
JMA: Definitely, the No. 1 goal is to be better than last year. If we can be better than last year, then that in itself is an accomplishment. I think at the end of the day, the big goal for all of us is to shoot for MLS Cup. That’s what our ultimate goal is, and to achieve that, we have to be better than last year. The first step to (MLS Cup) is making the playoffs, so we have to make the playoffs this year.