Featured / MLS

Brian Carroll will win you over

What’s in a name?

After a young Union team seemed to create new ways to drop points in 2010, Peter Nowak made a clear effort to bring in consistent, experienced players to steady the ship. Enter the Dragon. Enter the Carloses. Enter… Linguine?

“Nicknames? I have a few, but I probably shouldn’t say them,” Brian Carroll tells the Philly Soccer Page. Linguine is the newest one, courtesy of Sebastien Le Toux.

“My favorite is BC – Just first initial, last initial.”

Man or machine?

Even the most complicated machine will often have a simple central mechanism that makes the whole thing work. Think of Carroll as that simple piece that makes a team run well. He was Man of the Year at Columbus in 2009, a year he accumulated all of… one assist.

Against Houston on Saturday, Carroll was nearly invisible. You get the feeling that this will be the case in both his good games and his poor performances.  “Houston had streaks where they worked it around us. They played like we thought they would,” Carroll says. “They were dangerous on set pieces and looked to get the ball wide then get crosses in. The clean sheet was nice, it gives us confidence, especially on the road.”

Transcribing the above quote after our interview, I realize that it sounds very similar to a lot of the analyses I’ve heard of the game. But there is something different in how Carroll thinks and talks about soccer.

A beautiful mind

In David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, the author writes about how cliches often hold very important truths. It really is beneficial to take the season one day at a time. Brian Carroll seems like someone who looks for the forgotten truth in cliches.

“A good understanding in training helps you know where to be and where your teammates will be without a lot of screaming,” Carroll says. It’s a theme to which he often returns. Mental toughness? Training. Strong midfield? Training. Difference between the Union and the Dynamo? Training.

“The coaching staff did a good job bringing us along. Playing in the European atmosphere and in the warm weather against college and lower division European teams was positive. We saw some different tactics,” Carroll says. As a newbie, he used the preseason to mesh with his new teammates and reorient to Peter Nowak’s  processes.

Company man? Man of the people? Both?

The roster was already brimming with central midfielders when Carroll arrived over the summer. But if there is one thing a Union fan knows, it is that this is Peter Nowak’s team. And he wants them to play the Peter Nowak way. Brian Carroll? He’s a Peter Nowak player.

“Don’t cut corners or take plays off. You have to do all you can every drill,” Carroll says earnestly. Two MLS Cups indicate BC knows what he’s talking about. But can such a reserved and inconspicuous player win over the Union’s rabid fans?

“Playing at PPL last year, I remember the energy and passion. And the noise from Sons of Ben made it a tremendous atmosphere. I’m excited to go out there for this team.” Sounds like Brian Carroll will be a good match for Philly.

All that’s left is a chant that incorporates “Linguine”.

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