Monday, January 12, 2009

Training Room Talk - Brian Carroll

Columbus Crew midfielder Brian Carroll is no stranger to success. After winning the crown with D.C. in 2004 in his second year in MLS, he picked up his second MLS championship ring when he helped the Black and Gold to their first-ever league title this past November. Having played in the U-20 World Youth Championship in 2001, he has also represented the U.S. at the U-23 and full team levels. Credited with being the defensive anchor of the Crew midfield, the 27-year-old stands ready to put his skills to use by the national team if called upon in 2009.

us: We noticed you walked in holding a copy of USA Today. Would you describe yourself as a crossword or sudoku man?

BC: "Neither. I would label myself as a stock market guy. I follow it very closely."

us: Have any tips for us?

BC: "Stay away from bank stocks at the moment."

us: You have won two MLS Cups, with D.C. United in 2004 and this year with Columbus. Can you describe how each of the victories felt different?

BC: "The first is very nice, but the more you win it, the sweeter it feels. You understand the type of work that needs to be put in, and the type of relationships that need to be developed during the season in order to win a championship. To experience that again feels better the second time around."

us: Having grown up in Virginia and spent a lot of time in D.C., how do you like living in C-bus?

BC: "Columbus is a much different city. It's smaller, with less traffic. Even though the D.C. area is my hometown, I've grown pretty fond of Columbus. It's easier to live there. Until this week, that is! I had my windshield bashed in. Whoever broke in left all the electronics and only took the change, which amounted to a couple of dollars."

us: Did you have any players as role models when you were growing up?

BC: "There are no specific players. If possible, I like to take things from different players and incorporate into my game. Growing up I was a big fan of Manchester United. I'm sure part of that is because of their success. I went to a lot of D.C. United games at RFK, and a couple Cup Finals."

us: You have six caps for the national team. What has been your most memorable experience?

BC: "I would say the first one. I started and played the whole game against Panama [a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win on Oct. 12, 2005], and got named Man of the Match. The game against Mexico in 2007 was also special. It was a crazy crowd at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

us: Ah, the first taste of the rivalry. Anything stick out?

BC: "While I was warming up to come into the game, my studs broke and I had to wear molded boots instead. I had to mark Andres Guardado, who was really fast. I was slipping everywhere."

us: Is it a situation where you can watch and hear all the stories about USA-Mexico, but it's the not the same until you play in a game?

BC: "You don't get the full experience until you are a part of it. And once you've experienced it, it certainly sticks with you any time you are watching a game involving the U.S. and Mexico. It sticks in the back of your mind no matter how long you've been away from it, or when the next game is. That intense rivalry never leaves you once you've been a part of it."

us:You have been involved in several national team camps and games since 2005. Do you think you would have progressed so much as a player without your experiences with the national team?

BC: "I really don't think so. The entire level of play, the amount of fitness required, and the day in and day out scheme that is stressed here has clearly improved my game to a level that would not have been achieved if I was not lucky enough to have the opportunity to represent my country."

us: You have been re-united here with Peter Nowak, your former coach at D.C. ...

BC: "It's always interesting being in the same camp with Mr. Nowak (laughs). He was very intense in D.C., and pushed us hard to get the most out of us. Here he pushes is hard, but he also is very good at handling the role as the assistant coach. He's a little more light hearted at times, but still doing his best to help us improve. It's always great to be around Peter."

us: Knowing that there are a whole host of important games in 2009 - World Cup qualifying, the Confederations Cup, the Gold Cup - as well as a lot of competition for spots, how do you approach this opportunity?

BC: "The way I approach this year is that I know we have a good, solid team. I am striving to help the national team in any way I can, so for now that means being here and getting in competition and making myself a part of the pool. I know we have a lot of good players who are competing for these jobs. I just want to work hard and keep my name in the hat, and hopefully get a chance to be a part of games."

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