On Monday night’s show of Soccer Matters, Glenn interviewed Montreal Impact defender Jeb Brovsky leading up to next Wednesday’s MLS match up between the Houston Dynamo at the Montreal Impact.
GD: We always look to differentiate teams in MLS, whether it’s their purpose of play or personnel, and I kind of gave you guys the tag of a “Euro-influenced” team based on your personnel, your coach who is from Switzerland [Marco Schällibaum], and some of these Serie A stars like Marco Di Vaio, Alessandro Nesta, and Matteo Ferrari. Is that fair?
JB: It’s certainly fair. I think the front office has a vision and an outlook of what they would like the club to be. After last year with [former head coach] Jesse Marsch and the front office not feeling that he was the right fit for the club, they brought in Marco Schällibaum, and give credit to him because he has done an amazing job coming in and handling the diverse locker room that we have. We have a lot of Americans but, as you said, we have a lot of Europeans and that’s certainly a big influence, not only in this club but in this city, so that’s something that this club has really embraced, and it usually hasn’t worked in MLS before but it’s certainly coming together for us.
GD: Talk to me about Marco Schällibaum and what he brings and how his management skills are working so well up there in your eyes.
JB: Well, I think from the get-go he has really been a passionate guy. We started in Orlando and he made sure that we saw that pre-season tournament as a cup and as a cup final. He wants us to treat every game and every situation as a cup final. He gets fired up, he gets passionate, he gets the rest of the team passionate, and he knows how to balance the egos that are around. There are a lot of guys who want different things but I think he is a coach that will pull individuals aside and let them know what’s best for the team and vice versa. I think he’s done a great job with that, we’re fortunate to have him and we like him here.
GD: When he pulls people aside, does that include the likes of Nesta, Di Vaio, and Ferrari?
JB: Yes, certainly. Those guys have a lot of respect for Schällibaum, I believe, and it shows in training and in games. I think he’s really good at talking to them off the field as well and getting their opinion on things, but also we know that Marco is going to do what he wants to do and that is something those guys and the rest of the team respect.
GD: So an American guy whose ended up playing in Vancouver and Montreal. Are you looking to get Canadian citizenship?
JB: [laughs] Yeah, I know, it’s a roll of the dice that I ended up on two [Canadian MLS teams], I mean who knows when the Toronto move will happen! I don’t know how that ended up but I’m happy in Canada, it’s been a fortunate situation for me that I have liked being in both cities so it’s great.
GD: Let me take you back to what I think is a wonderful blend of attack and defense that you guys have. I think you’re a team that pass the ball very well and, of course, in my opinion with Di Vaio, [Justin] Mapp, [Sanna] Nyassi, [Patrice] Bernier, [Collen] Warner, you’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays.
JB: Yeah, and you know what they’ve really been making plays for us. I think you see Justin Mapp having a great, great year, he’s really come up big in some games for us. You know you can lean on any one of those guys on any given day, and if one of them is not having a good day, there are four or five other guys who can pick up the slack and that’s always a good sign of a good team. We definitely have some good options but, knock on wood, Marco Di Vaio keeps putting the ball in the net. It’s a good system and as a defender it’s great to look forward and see those guys in front of you.
GD: How about your situation right now. Tell me about where you’re fitting in with the team. You’ve had 11 starts in 12 games, you’ve played 990 minutes, and you’ve got a couple of assists on the year so you’re certainly an established player in Montreal.
JB: Yeah, it’s been either a left back or right back role for me. Coming in last year as a right back, I had to play left back the majority of the season last year, so I got very comfortable at both positions. This year, it’s really where the injuries are. If Alessandro Nesta drops out I’ve been playing on the right, if he’s back in the lineup then they’ll slide me over to left back and Hassoun Camara over to right back. So it’s kind of been one of those seasons where you’ve got to be ready week to week for Marco Schällibaum to come into the locker room and say, “Jebby, we’re gonna put you on the left or on the right” so it’s something that I’ve dealt with and I enjoy it, learning both sides.
GD: Talk to me a little bit about Marco Di Vaio. The way he plays off the shoulder of the last line of a defense, his ability to sort of hide himself and make these incredibly timed runs. I just think he’s a study, as a 37-year-old striker in this league and he’s a great distributor as well.
JB: Yeah, he’s one of the smartest players you’ll see, on the pitch, he’s always thinking 2 or 3 plays ahead, and he might be offsides 4 or 5 times but the 6th or 7th time he gets the ball he’s going to be onsides perfectly. He’s a guy in practice that, certainly as a defender I can learn from. Any time you have a world-class player come into your club, you want to pick his brain, you want to learn from him. It’s always nice to learn from guys like Nesta and Ferrari but if you can get a world-class striker that you can really learn from I think it’s even better. He comes in and really challenges us as young guys and he’s just world-class for a reason.
GD: Have you seen some different things out of him in practice or in games that you don’t see out of a normal MLS striker?
JB: I certainly think so. It comes down to his technique, just his style of play, it’s very very smart, very technical but when he gets a chance, I think no one is questioning that it’s going to go into the back of the net or the keeper is going to have to make a great save. You can only say that about very few guys, day in and day out, and he’s definitely one of those guys you want the ball at his feet at the end of the game.
GD: And what about Alessandro Nesta and Matteo Ferrari? Of course, Nesta, 193 games at Lazio, 224 at Milan, has played over 400 Serie A games, two UEFA Champions League titles at Milan, he’s won a World Cup with Italy and yet, outside of what I thought was an uncharacteristic outburst when he got sent off, he just seems like one of the guys.
JB: He is! You know, anytime you have a legend like Alessandro Nesta walk in the locker room, most guys you’ll be expecting some big ego or huge outburst once in a while but Alessandro really isn’t that guy. He the guy who leads by example, he does speak up when he feels some guys are out of line, he’s certainly a vocal leader when he needs to be. Just listening to his experiences has been unbelievable as a young player. We were on the bus one day and he talks about making a penalty in the Champions League final and I just turned to Collen Warner and Justin Mapp and we started laughing and I said, “Well, I made a penalty at Notre Dame once!” He’s just on another level. It’s great to have guys like that with different experiences, because ultimately that’s where we all strive to be, that’s the career all of us dream of and he’s been there, he’s paid his dues, he’s pretty much done everything in the world he could do in soccer, and it’s up to us young guys to pick his brain a little bit.
GD: I know that Columbus is up next for you but beyond that it’s Houston. Any thoughts on the Houston Dynamo, what you’ve seen over a couple years from them and the team this year that is maybe a little different from last year’s team.
JB: Yeah, it’s always a game that anytime you have the Houston Dynamo on your schedule you’re always looking ahead to it. They’re always gonna be towards the top of the table, it seems, I think they’ve got a club and a system that everyone is very proud of and has bought in to, you know, and Dominic Kinnear and having a fantastic home record streak was formidable and teams didn’t want to go and challenge them. So I don’t think, even if they have new personnel and a new team, I certainly think the system hasn’t changed and they’re always a team that is going to battle you and make it hard to play, they’re always a tough team to get points off. It’s always in the back of our heads, playing Houston, but right now we’ve got to take every game at one time and go into Columbus and make sure we get 3 points.
Transcribed by Cari Gelal